[personal profile] unforth
Well, it's that time of year again: the birthday egoism post. This tradition, which I co-opted from [livejournal.com profile] swan_tower a few years ago, involves my taking a little time to reflect on the events of the past year without bashing myself, without considering failures and addenda to the positives, but instead to just go ahead and take a few minutes to whole-heartedly boast about all the awesome crap I've managed to get up to. Given the timing of my birthday, this ends up being a prelude to the more reflective post I try to do every New Year, where I think about what my goals were for the previous year, how well I accomplished them, and discuss the new goals I've set. But that's for next week. For this week, and for today, it's all about what I accomplished.

Ugh, where to begin? It's been a really busy year!

1. Might as well start with work. This has been my busiest year ever for work, with 10 days to go in the year a more work left to do, I've already worked a bunch more than last year. My average number of hours per week this year has finally exceeded 20 (if I don't work at all the rest of the year it'll dip back under, but that's not likely to happen). This includes all of the weeks I didn't work much at all because I was traveling (especially in the spring, when I was doing the long distance thing) and when all is said and done, I know it doesn't sound like all that much, but one of the perks of my job is that I don't have to call time I'm not actually working "work" (unlike many jobs, where whether you're busy or not, you have to be there). I've also had like 4 or 5 weeks where I broke 50 hours, and I've had a couple 12+ hours days, which were very little fun but pretty much essential. :) In addition to hours, I wrote or co-wrote 6 grants this year, of which 4 received funding. I was lead evaluator for all of our projects (like, 10) and completed evaluation reports for all of them, including 4 final evaluation reports (one of which is one of the longest non-fictional pieces I've ever finished). At this point, I've pretty much taken up the reins on the business, and while I don't like the pressure/stress that goes with that level of responsibility, I think I've been dealing with it pretty well, if I do say so myself. :)

2. Writing. I haven't written much this year (Wait, what happened to egoism??) but I did get some editing done on the Golden Age novel, and more importantly over the past two and a half months just about everything I've read has been research for a novel I've been plotting, a mystery set in the Civil War. It's coming together well, and I'm pretty pleased with my thinking in this regard. The days immediately after Christmas, I'll be going done to Bull Run to do some more work on this regard - my first ever trip taken expressly to do research! - and (to spoil something that technically belongs in the post next week) I'll be starting to write it on 1/1. In other regards, I also went to World Fantasy Convention for the first time ever, which really inspired me and helped me feel like this is really something that I can get in reach of. [livejournal.com profile] fireun and I are also in the early stages of doing a writing crit group, though we've both been so busy this month that we're both behind. :)

3. Crafts. In the background of everything, last January I started trying to start my own craft business. The original inspiration behind this actually took place over the holiday season of 2009, when I started thinking about what I could produce inexpensively enough to actually potentially make a profit on, and I decided to try making cards out of my photography. I launched that part of the business in mid-January (when I reached a breaking point from a very stressful work project that I had to finish). Then, in early February, I made my first amigurumi from an Amy Gaines pattern, and very quickly realized that I could definitely design my own dolls. I started doing so not long after, and in the time since then, I've designed...er...13 dolls (ant, brontosaurus, goose, polar bear, peacock, squirrel, Tom Seaver, Santa Claus, jellyfish, squid, blub blub, alot, ship...I think that's everything...), 5 of which were commissions, and I've published the patterns for 7 of those (with an eighth pending pretty much whenever I get the time to finish it, I'm just being a little lazy about finishing the squid). I've gotten three of them completely tested by strangers, feedback and all (squid, blub blub, and just finished the jellyfish testing today!) and had the gratifying experience of having pretty much all of the feedback I've received be overwhelming positive, and most of the errors folks have found being minor. I've started a craft blog that now has 14 dedicated followers, a facebook page with 83 fans, and a Ravelry account that seems to have a few folks interested. I've joined an online community called the Hive where I've made loads of friends with other crafts people, and gotten to know others in the field too as I've gotten the chance. I've met lots of wonderful folks, gotten lots of support, and have spent a ludicrous amount of time on this (at least as much as on the day job, at least this fall). The cards part hasn't taken off quite as well, but I still have faith that it will because when people see the cards they seem to like them. All in all, I've invested about $275 in trying to get all this off the ground, and earned about $300 - so I've managed to turn a profit of about $20. It's a small start, but it is a start, and I know that the hard work will pay off. :) Oh, and I also made two amigurumi by others, completed 2 (Already mostly finished) cross stitches, and did almost all of another cross stitch (from start to almost finish - just have to do the back stitch and other detail work).

4. Exercise and diet. I've lost about 15 pounds in the past year, entirely by exercising. I haven't dieted, though I have eaten smartly. I've maintained a consistent workout regime for an entire year (actually about 14 months now) despite set backs, travel interruptions, and getting sick four times in the year. I've jogged as fast as 6.5 mph over multiple miles, and jogged 13.9 miles in one go. I've gone from a maximum resistance of about 11 on the elliptical to a max of 22. I haven't raised my weight lifting numbers much, but I've kept at it, and my arms are more toned. I went from being officially "overweight" to being within the healthy age range for my height. I've found several foods that turned out to be too addictive for me (yogurt, frosted mini wheats, to name two) and managed to quit them both. I've continued to experiment with different ways to handle my calorie intake, but in the end I eat as much as I want and don't feel hungry, and I'm satisfied that what I'm doing is sustainable and makes me happy. Most days, I look forward to my workouts, but even when I don't (like this morning, when it sucked from the instant I started!) I have been able to push through and keep at it. I've gone from wearing a size 8 - 12 (depending) to wearing a size 6 - 8 most of the time, and I've gone down at least one corset size. :)

5. Travel! This year had a lot of travel in it. Indeed (and I don't think this is a good thing!) I have not had a single month this year where I spent every night at home! (It's looking like I'll break this streak in January... :) ). Trips this year included:
February - Paris for five days, because [livejournal.com profile] schenker28 was there and didn't mind me crashing on his floor.
May - 3 days in Detroit for [livejournal.com profile] buzzermccain's wedding.
June - my usual trip to Origins
July - a week in Texas to visit my grandfather, along with my brother, my mom, and [livejournal.com profile] ozziel
August - my usual trip to Gencon
September - two and a half weeks for my first trip to Italy, with a week in Rome and a week in Venice
October - two convention trips in October, the first to Con on the Cob in Hudson, OH, and the second to World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, OH
December - Texas again (right now, in fact!), and next week's trip to Bull Run (which is in Virginia)

Most of the other trips were either short overnights, or were trips to Indiana to visit [livejournal.com profile] ozziel, before we broke up in July.
So, not quite as much travel is in past years (by some measures) but believe me, it still felt like plenty!! :)

6. Reading. I managed to read a lot this year, more than in past years. Almost all of it was non-fiction (though there was some manga mixed in) and the majority of that was history. Sometime next week I'll get my reading list survey up, and folks can see all of what I read. (looking forward to the year-in-review reading lists over on library_thing's LJ group. :)

7. Friends and family. As the use of FB has expanded, I've felt like I've done an increasingly good job of keeping at least a little touch with folks, especially my family. There's a downside, too, but this is an egoism post, so we're not gonna worry about that. :) All in all, I've done better at keeping in contact with most folks than I have in previous years.

8. I've gone an entire year without moving. Thank-fucking-god.

9. Season tickets! [livejournal.com profile] ultimabaka and I made it to about 10 Mets games together - I ended up missing about 5 of the ones in our ticket pack - and despite our not so good season, we won almost all of the games I was at. I watched all of another season of baseball happily, and am still just as happily following the offseason developments. I've spent more time this year enjoying other sports, too - I watched a ton of the olympics (and really dug the biathalon) and as much of the World Cup as I could manage, including watching the final game while in the Houston airport, only to have board as the game went in to OT! I've been watching football all fall when I haven't been working, and rooting happily for the Giants and the Colts, and have gotten to the point that if I sit down with a sports fan I can at least not sound like a total idiot on almost any major topic (as in, at the level of the kinds of sports covered on ESPN, which I often put on as white noise). I've really come to embrace that I love sports, and having sports on makes me happy and fills many an evening.

10. Art collecting: have almost paid for Man with Gold Earring! Now have a decent list of artists who I really consider myself to be a patron of; I've got artists who remember my name even a year later, and folks I've bought from many times. For the first time I had an artist bring a piece to Gencon specifically because he thought I would like it and be interested in buying it - and he was right, and I did like it and did buy it - and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know that I've got that kind of relationship with one of the artists I like (another artist and I exchanged Christmas cards. :) ) I'm dreading next month, though, when Stephanie Law puts her Tarot card originals up for sale - but not because I have any doubt that I'm going to buy (at least) one of them! :)

11. I got a raise. Squee. :)

12. In March of this year, I was able to zero my credit cards, and since then I have not carried a balance over more than one billing cycle all year. This has sometimes meant other sacrifices, but it's really important to me. Furthermore, I kept a budget the entire year, and have not had any point this entire year where the state of my finances has taken me by surprise. I've really had control over this, and the result has been that I'm much happier iwth how I've spent my money, the things I've been able to buy and do, and generally am less stressed about the fiscal end of life.

13. How could I almost forget the drums! I started taking drum lessons last February, and I've been enjoying it very much! I've now got an electric kit at home, and while I don't practice quite as much as I'd like, it's still more than I've ever practiced any instrument I've ever worked on before. I've made a lot of progress on the basics, and now, every once in a rare while, I hear a song and instead of thinking, "woooooow" I think, "hey, with a little practice, I could definitely play that!" :)

14. Introspection and communication. I've continued to work on general self-improvement. In the past year, this has been especially spurred by low-level (and occasionally higher level) conflicts with my mother, which generally require some time spent afterwards sorting through why we each said what we said and how we can avoid such conflicts in the future. I think we've both made lots of progress, and the proof in the pudding may just be this trip, where we've been getting along excellently. After the break up with [livejournal.com profile] ozziel I also made a resolution to myself about how I would handle communication with people in the future, and in enacting this resolution over the past 6 months, I've felt that this has worked fairly well. It definitely still needs some refinement, but I've certainly felt like I'm being truer to myself. I am still a little worried it's a bit too abrassive, but time will tell I guess. :) I also spent about 3 months, starting in August, pondering the biggest decision of my life - namely, whether or not to go ahead and have a child even though I'm single at the moment. While I've decided, for now, not to, this demanded a whole lot of consideration, self reflection, and logistics pondering, and for the most part I decided that this was something that I could do and ultimately would like to do. (consider this "LJ official" now - I'd been putting off writing about it, though I've spoken to a number of people about it 1-on-1, and have the approval of pretty much my whole family if I decide to go for it - I'm only not doing so right now because I was convinced that I should make one more serious attempt to meet someone before committing myself to a course that will guarantee that my life will literally NEVER be the same again).

15. Camera. I sort of lumped photography into crafts, but in truth I shouldn't have. When my old, point-and-shoot started to die last spring, I decided to go ahead and get a new, nicer camera that had a lot more settings I could control. At first I found using it a little intimidating, but now I use it happily all the time, almost always on manual settings, and I have come to have a much greater understanding of aperture, shutter speed, iso, and how to balance the different settings at my command to take high-quality pictures in a variety of settings. By my own judgement, and from what I can get from other peoples views, the result has been a marked improvement in my photography. I've also gotten in the habit of occasionally taking long walks or hikes or visits to places EXPRESSLY to focus on photography - especially when there are unusual conditions (ie, it's been snowing all day, or the fall colors are at their best). I also built a light box to help improve the photography of all of my craft products.

16. I've developed Bronx pride. Seriously. For some ungodly reason, I'm proud to live in the Bronx.

17. Have not died, or appear to be dying, as I turn 28.

I think that's everything. If I think of something more, I'll scrawl it in - or maybe just toss it in to next weeks post.
Happy solstice, everyone. :)
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