The Best of Times, the Worst of Times (2016 edition)

jumping

When I look back on last year’s NYE post (https://thatsclassyfied.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/obligatory-nye-blog/), I’d say I pretty much fulfilled most of my long-term goals for 2016.

I’ve gotten better established at my job, improved my friend circle tenfold and I did become more adventurous, or at least as much as I can be in my adult life/hometown.

I got more than I bargained for as well. I traveled to cities new and old and even out of the country for the first time in forever. I started dating again. I found a church to call home. I covered numerous human interest stories and ballot measures. I got my heart broken–more than once. I turned 23. I watched a loved one in his dying stages. I reconnected with family I hadn’t seen in years at the funeral. I felt a huge sense of fulfillment after attending multiple concerts of multiple different genres. And I learned to rely more on friends when I realized time and again that I’m not invincible.

I think that’s a somewhat healthy mix of good and bad—life’s certainly never going to be perfect.

Even with a metaphorical clean slate that comes with a new year, I don’t think everyone necessarily gets a fresh start. Some things from the past carry over into the start of the next 365 days.

But I hope that throughout those 365 days, I learn to have a clearer understanding of why some things fall apart because there must be a good reason, or at least that’s what I tell myself. For me, that means long(er) talks with God; it may look different for you.

I also hope to stay focused on the good memories from the year when I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Another long-term goal I have is reclaiming my passion for the things I used to. It’s been a good, eventful, busy year, but deep down I know I purposely kept my mind distracted with work, travel, everything, because I don’t like to spend too much time in my own mind with all its doubts.

It’s been a good year. It’s been an interesting one. But I hope 2017 is better.

Without further ado, here are just a handful of 2016 memories that make me smile:

The Year of Nine Concerts

I won’t list them all, but my favorite concerts I saw this year were Hoodie Allen (with a surprise guest appearance by ED SHEERAN. Hoodie’s the one in the lifeboat), Josh Groban (third in the right column), Halsey (bottom left), Sia, and seeing Panic! at the Disco (top right) at the iHeart Radio festival in Vegas. But seeing Bastille (biggest photo) at my all-time favorite music venue (The Troubadour)–and getting to touch Dan Smith’s sweaty back–takes the cake.

“Book of Mormon”

the-book-of-mormon

I realize this musical is definitely offensive (I mean, it IS written by the creators of South Park) but seriously, who isn’t offended by something these days. “Book of Mormon” was nothing short of amazing.

Realizing I Don’t Completely Suck at What I Do

writing-award

So in April, I learned that a story I wrote back in October 2015 somehow won me a California Newspaper Publishers Association award–first place in the Sports Feature category, oddly enough. I don’t know how stiff the competition was, but somewhere in the thousands maybe?

Canad-eh

When I told people I was going to Canada with my family this summer, it was often met with “Oh why, do you have family there?”. The question really should be why not? It’s got Niagra Falls, nifty cafes, a slew of national parks, free healthcare and polite people.

Reunited And It Feels So Good

I’m blessed to met lifelong friends at college but unfortunately at the expense of them living long drives or airplane rides away from me. But we somehow make our long distance relationship work.

San Francis-ky Business

The traffic/parking situation here sucks, but the views, though.

 

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All I Want for Christmas is…

all-i-want-for-christmas-is-pic

You. Jk, jk…

Last Christmas, I wrote about what I wanted that year. Not a Bluetooth speaker or a Gryffindor scarf (although I would not be opposed to the latter), but what I referred to as a “normal”:

(From December 2015) “What I really want for Christmas (and the New Year too) is a sense of normalcy. It can’t be normal to find “happiness” from being minimally satisfied with simply surviving each day in a quiet existence because I’ve managed to disappoint only a few (instead of a lot of) people.

I thought as I would get older, my Christmas wish-lists would get less complicated. They’ve certainly become less materialistic, but the bike or whatever I thought was so great as a kid was far easier to obtain than the feeling of being safe, or “at home” I’d rather have now.”

I think I achieved this “normal” in the sense that I’ve gotten into a pretty good work and social life flow throughout this year and-a-half of postgrad-ness, which at first, felt akin to tinikling (bamboo jumping game).

tinikling

As far as feeling “at home”…I’m not sure I’ll ever quite feel a permanent sense of at home-ness (aside, of course, from being at my actual childhood home I still live at). I think part of it has to do with the general feeling I’ve always felt of being an observer but not so much in the action (as is the case with my day job). Or maybe it’s because I’m always searching for somewhere else that I can’t be completely at ease where I am.

But as I’ve come to terms with my new normal, I realized I’ve lost something else in the process. It didn’t quite hit me until I was at a work party this week.

I was chatting with a receptionist from our other office (we have two) about how long I’ve been working and how I would eventually like to pursue a master’s degree. Though a master’s in what I wasn’t sure, I told her.

“Well, you like writing, so what’s your secondary passion?” she asked me.

I laughed—not because the question was funny, but because I wanted to buy some time to think of a good answer. I couldn’t.

In fact, I held back the fact that for the last several months, my primary passion—writing—has been wavering a bit, like a flickering flame. How could I pursue a second major passion when I was struggling to keep my first afloat? And why was that?

Maybe it’s because I’m always writing, always trying to beat the clock that I’ve grown somewhat detached from my pen. I feel it not only when I have to write about tragedies (which are fortunately very few and far between) but I also sometimes feel detached from ordinary events.

Even in my “for fun” writing, I get so frustrated and convinced that I can’t improve in my craft—or what I thought was my craft. Somehow, after I make headway on a chapter or two of the start of a story, I feel a little empty inside. Like my pride and joy is either going to be complete crap, or my eyes will be the only ones that see it. As though trying is somehow pointless.

As a young teen, the thought of weaving stories in my head was what gave me energy. A reason to get up in the morning and stay awake. Then fear crept in.

I wouldn’t say I’ve lost my passion exactly, but sometimes it slips away, quarter-inch by quarter-inch.

What I want for Christmas is to get it back—scratch that, I want it for longer than just the holidays.

But don’t misunderstand me—I am grateful for many things this Christmas, despite my subdued passion described above. But I’ll spare my pen until New Year’s Eve to write about those things.