2014, The Year of Landmarks

December 31, 2014

Wow. This year absolutely flew by me, at something approaching light speed. I have read somewhere that as you get older, the years seem to go by faster and faster, and if 2014 has proved anything to me, it is the truth in that statement. I type this now, on a computer in Maryland, thinking about the people I know and the people I miss from throughout this blur of a year. Some folks got married, some of them moved or changed jobs; heck, one even had a kid and moved across the country!

My own life has seemed to be on an upswing of sorts… *knocks on wood* at least in the last few months. I got a job teaching full-time at a high school in the district I’d been subbing in, I have my own classroom, and Christine and I got a whole new apartment. We even got a new (ish) car! It’s incredible what time, patience, and support from my amazing family can provide. I want to take this small moment to say thank you to them, all of you who take time to read this business every year, and those who helped me whenever I needed it. The people in my life make my life worth living, I truly believe that. So, thanks.
Well, let’s take a look at this past year’s resolutions:

1. Focus on financial responsibility and independence.
One of the best parts about teaching full-time is the boost in the paycheck! Subbing was nice, but salaried pay is even nicer. I have legit health insurance now, you guys. I feel so grown up!

2. Read at least a dozen books. 
Did I read a dozen? Almost. I feel like as soon as September hit, I knew I wasn’t going to accomplish this resolution. But, thankfully, I have been able to read a book or two with my students, and I think that should count for something.

3. Donate to charity again.
Alas, financial difficulties in the first half of the year kept me from doing this one. I would like to do this regardless, either to Planned Parenthood or a youth organization that’s more local to help a noble cause. If you have a suggestion, hit me up.

4. Keep writing.
I have continued my goal of one new poem per month, and as of today I have written 20 poems in 2014… with one more brewing upstairs! I plan on posting that one after its finished in the next few days. I can also take this opportunity for a shameless plug: Christine and I have a separate WordPress blog called The Bird & The Fish, wherein we write prose-only short stories together. It started as a writing exercise but has blossomed into one of my favorite side projects.

5. Get outside my comfort zone.
This one’s a little iffy in my opinion. I didn’t go skydiving, for example, or go backpacking in Europe, or anything like that. But I did get a job as a teacher, and that job has forced me to handle things I might never have handled otherwise. And there was that two-day drive to California just for an In ‘N’ Out burger. So, I’ll file this one away as unresolved for now.

For a year that I felt went really positively, I sure didn’t conquer that many of my resolutions! Oh well. Now for what I plan to accomplish in the next twelve months… Here are my 2015 New Year’s resolutions:

1. Become part of a (or start my own!) book club.
With my love and passion for reading, I’ve always wanted to become a part of a real discussion with the text. A bonafide book club would be a chance for me to read recreationally and continue that conversation in a very real way.

2. Renew old friendships.
Moving down to the south end made it a lot harder to keep in contact with friends (both old and new) in a face to face way. I want to make a conscious effort this year to get more of that beloved face-time with some of you guys. (Here’s looking at you, Fozz)

3. Survive my first year as a teacher. (Flying colors optional)
This one sounds deceptively simple. One step at a time, right?

4. See some more cool stuff.
I managed to travel to California a couple times this year, as well as all sorts of awesome historical landmarks out here in the DC area. Heck, I spent all day today in Gettysburg, PA. It was totally awesome! I love seeing more of this beautiful country of ours.

5. Keep writing!
Okay, so it might be a repeat offender, but I always want to keep on writing. As life gets busier, I can’t let that time for reflection and creativity slip away. Hopefully that one’s an easy one.

Again, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who I managed to see this year. You guys are beyond words. And for those of you who I haven’t seen yet: I’m working on it. Until next time, folks.

MSBQ

2012, The Year of Decision

January 1, 2013

Hey everyone! I know I usually post this sort of thing on the last day of the year, but thanks to my brother we had a heck of a good party on New Year’s Eve. Now, I will take the time to reflect on my resolutions from last year, as well put some together for the big ’13 ahead of us.

I want to start off by thanking my family and friends for all of the support I received this year. I managed (FINALLY) to graduate from college, get my teaching certificate, and head off into the world with my head held high. I would never have been able to do this without my incredible family, my hilarious friends, and my amazing girlfriend. You guys seriously rock.

Let’s take a look at last year’s resolutions:

1. Get my bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate.
Pretty simple. I want to put SPU in the rearview mirror for good.
Finally, finally, finally, I managed to get myself out of school and out into the world. Finding a teaching job has been significantly more difficult than I thought it would be / was ever told it would be, but I remain resolved to get myself into a classroom.

2. Continue to get my work published.
I really like sites like the ones who have already published me and I think it’s good for me to have the critical review.
So far, things have been quiet on this front. With actually graduating, (re)learning Spanish, and looking for a job, my writing quest has taken the back-burner. Looking back, I am impressed with my work this year. Seventeen new pieces remind me that I am still continuing my literary journey.

3. Work on and/or finish the short-story I have already started.
It’s going to take some effort, but I think I’ve got what it takes.
I actually did continue work on it, but my other expectations took over a bit. I plan to keep whittling away at it until I feel satisfied.

4. Travel outside of the country (legally).
I’m not talking “Into the Wild” or anything. I just want to see somewhere new.
I was so close to doing this one! My Dad and my brother and I were planning on heading up to Vancouver B.C. for a day or two but our plans fell through. Now that we’ve all got those fancy “enhanced” licenses, we will be heading up there soon, I’m sure!

5. Send hand-written letters to my friends abroad.
I think there is something to be said about getting snail mail these days.
The irony of this resolution is that my biggest contributor to “snail mail” as I have called it is my dear friend Alexa, who has almost single-handedly helped me with an entire postcard collage in my room. I should like to send some postcards of my own, if not some letters as well.

6. Read the Tolkien trilogy again.
I’m not sure how many times I’ve done this already, but I want to read it again.
Tolkien trilogy: no; some other very good books this year: yes.

7. Meet a famous author/poet face to face.
Listening to Neil Gaiman’s city hall lecture really got me inspired for this one.
While I didn’t manage to get into anything in particular this year, I did manage to sit down and have lunch with Sherman Alexie once or twice… I would count that as achievement.

8. Move back to Seattle.
I love my folks, but I feel like the emerald city is where I belong.
We don’t have to get into why I’m still not there but change is in the air, folks.

9. Get my own classroom.
Even if it was just as a substitute, I want to do what I love this year.
Alas, still no bites. Getting a teaching job is monumentally harder than I thought it would be, even just a substitute position. People keep telling me to look bigger or in different subjects but I’m only certified for English. Maybe I should work on another endorsement instead? Who knows.

10. Start saving for my future.
I’m turning 25 in little over two weeks. It’s time I start thinking ahead.
Not a bad idea, and one that I managed to deliver on somewhat. Having two jobs during the month of November really helped this one become a reality, considering I’m still just working part-time.

Nothing too spectacular, but I’m glad to see that my goals had been more or less achieved. When I look back at the last year and think of the difference between where I thought I would be by now and where I actually am now, I am astounded. However, I believe there is a reason to my trials and that in the end I will be better for the experience. Let’s see what I can come up with for this year…

1. Rewatch the television show LOST.
Those of you closest to me know how into this show I am, and I think it would really get my creative engines going again to watch those guys on the Island.

2. Get a teaching job. For real this time.
I’m out, I’m certified, and I’m ready to get in there.

3. Continue saving money and become more financially responsible.
I made this one resolution instead of two because they go hand in hand. I want to get myself in a place financially where I can handle life instead of just survive it.

4. Visit a national landmark that I’ve never been to before.
Yellowstone? The Grand Canyon? Disney World? All of the above would be awesome.

5. Become a better human being.
There have been times in the last year and a half (approximately) where I have felt that I have fallen short of where I want to be. I try hard to be a good person and let life happen as it will instead of freaking out or becoming negative but being a human is hard. I’ll work on it this year.

Yes, there’s only five this year. I felt like condensing things a little; more because I think I need to focus more, less because it’s simply easier to do five than ten. Get over it.

Thanks again for reading, and keep reading my blog! I have another poem brewing already, and the winter is traditionally a pretty good time for me creatively. You are all wonderful and I can’t wait to hang out with you again, preferably over a hot cup of tea / hot cup of coffee / cold glass of beer.

MSBQ

2011, The Year of Revolution

December 31, 2011

“You say you want a revolution, well you know, we all want to change the world.”

Once again, it is the time of year where it is common to be nostalgic and think about the events of the past twelve months. It’s been quite a year for this planet Earth, and I think we can all agree that it won’t be one that is forgotten too easily.

As for myself, I think the overwhelming sense of déjà vu is what struck me the most. I am one test away from finally escaping graduating college for good and becoming a bonafide teacher. I’ve spent the last ten days in Laurel, Maryland visiting with family and enjoying some time off. I feel so blessed to have so many people in my life that have stuck by me, and I want each of you to know that I couldn’t have done any of this without help.

Reading through my past resolutions, it has also struck me that I have been so stubborn about where I’m going and “making things happen on my own steam” that I have fallen short of my goals. It is because I have people in my life who make me smile and tell me to get back on the horse that I have achieved everything I have thus far. So thank you. If you’re reading this, I probably talked to you or thought about you or, heck, even dreamt about you. Thank you for making 2011 a crazy year!

Let’s take a look at what I said I’d want to do last year:

1. Go to at least 5 live concerts this year.
I’m tired of always hearing about the most awesome show in the world. I WANNA GO!
While I didn’t make it to five shows, I did get a chance to see my favorite band live with my younger brother… and what an awesome show it was!

2. Talk to a publisher of some sort about putting out a collection of my work.
Who knows? Maybe someone out there will like what I have to say.
Getting your name out is harder than you would think. Thankfully, this last June, the poetry blog called Anatomy & Etymology published a handful of my work. My friend, Gabriel Gadfly, also published me via his site this year. With luck, there will be even more in the future.

3. Visit California, including the Happiest Place on Earth.
No dice here. I never got a chance to make the trip south this year. I still would like to though!

4. Help out a stranger in need.
I feel like I made a pretty distinct effort to help people out this year. Whether it was one of my students during my practicum or just talking to someone who needed an ego boost, I did my best to keep the morale high this year.

5. Graduate from SPU.
Hmmm. This continues to elude me. Those of you closest to me will know that this has been something I have truly struggled with this past year.

6. Start saving some money.
HA! Yeah, still not doing this one… But I’m getting better with what money I have, which, in its own right, is a major step in the right direction.

7. Get my own place again.
See, on this one I think I took a step backwards. In September I moved back in with my parents. They were gracious enough to accept me and have been more supportive than I probably deserve. Truth of the matter is that the stubborn, independent Capricorn side of me really just wants to spread its wings!

8. Sponsor a child in a third world country.
Check this one off the list. Twice this year, through an organization called PLAN, I donated money to education and survival needs of kids in central Africa. If I had the income to do a monthly donation, I would. This is something I think we can all benefit from as the human species.

9. Get a tattoo.
Nope. I think it’d be cool, but to be honest I think the pain issue has been as much of a factor as the financial one. Maybe this year will be the year I finally get inked?

10. Get a dog.
Thanks to the tumultuous summer I had, this one was quickly crossed off the list as not feasible. When I do have my own place, this one will be taken care of.

 

It’s funny how things work out, isn’t it? I have worked so hard and so long to become what I believe I meant and meant to become, and yet I still have a ways to go. Yeates once wrote that “education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” The more I have learned about myself, the more I have burned to become a better and brighter flame.

 

Let’s take a look at my resolutions for this year:

1. Get my bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate.
Pretty simple. I want to put SPU in the rearview mirror for good.

2. Continue to get my work published.
I really like sites like the ones who have already published me and I think it’s good for me to have the critical review.

3. Work on and/or finish the short-story I have already started.
It’s going to take some effort, but I think I’ve got what it takes.

4. Travel outside of the country (legally).
I’m not talking “Into the Wild” or anything. I just want to see somewhere new.

5. Send hand-written letters to my friends abroad.
I think there is something to be said about getting snail mail these days.

6. Read the Tolkien trilogy again.
I’m not sure how many times I’ve done this already, but I want to read it again.

7. Meet a famous author/poet face to face.
Listening to Neil Gaiman’s city hall lecture really got me inspired for this one.

8. Move back to Seattle.
I love my folks, but I feel like the emerald city is where I belong.

9. Get my own classroom.
Even if it was just as a substitute, I want to do what I love this year.

10. Start saving for my future.
I’m turning 25 in little over two weeks. It’s time I start thinking ahead.

 

Although I may not be at the local party with you, or giving a toast at your house this New Year’s, know that I am with you all in spirit. It’s my favorite holiday, after all. A new beginning, and a chance to start fresh. Have fun, and be safe, everyone.

 

MSBQ

 

Sorry for the delay, folks!

For the first time in a few years, I didn’t get my New Year’s resolutions post up on the last day of the year! I’ll be the first to admit, New Year’s Eve is my most favorite holiday. Unfortunately, mine was quite full of social obligations, and I was unable to really sit down and write these out until this very afternoon.

This is the place where I would normally say something both nostalgic and profound about my experiences, and, without naming names, talk about some of them more in-depth. This year, I will take this small opportunity to acknowledge all of the people in my life who have stood by me, even if I was trying to push them away.

It’s been an interesting twelve months.

Let’s take a look at what my resolutions for 2010 were, and then we can talk about this year’s. 🙂

 

RESOLUTIONS FOR 2010
the retrospect edition

1. Do my student teaching.
Thank goodness for this one. Not only am I already well on my way, but this very week I begin my student teaching five days a week. I was blessed to be taken under the wing of Jeff Ferderer, one of my former English teachers, and every day spent in his classroom has nothing short of remarkable.

2. Continue writing poetry, and reopen the short story idea.
As some of you can probably attest to, I certainly kept writing. This year, I wrote another couple dozen pieces of poetry, and just like I’d hoped, I struck out into the short story genre a little more. I’m still not a novelist (not by a long shot), but I like working with a new medium.

3. Don’t screw this up.
This one was about my relationship with Christine, which, I have to admit, is still going strong. She is my puzzle piece, and the one person I know I can always rely on to make me smile. I love you!

4. Reconnect with friends far away.
Sort of a double-edged sword, isn’t it? Some of my dearest friends are still in contact (almost every day), while others have become little more than a shadow. Circumstances notwithstanding, I’d say I have accomplished this one… but at a hefty cost.

5. Take a trip, preferably a spontaneous one.
Hmm… Not to say that I wasn’t spontaneous for the entirety of 2010, but I don’t think I ever went on that random trip to Ocean Shores or anything. Not having a car until halfway through the year didn’t help either. Maybe I can get this one again soon!

6. Start getting a teaching job lined up.
It is the next step, but unfortunately I have to wait to be fully certified before I can go throwing out my resume to every superintendent in western Washington. Just keep your fingers crossed that by May I’ll have something (or a few somethings) up in the air for this.

7. Do some charity work of some kind.
Can’t cross this one off my list quite yet, although my week of volunteering back in September gave me a small taste of this world.. and I enjoyed it! I gave up a week of my summer to help with SPU’s freshmen orientation, and it helped introduce me to the kids from my USEM class for fall quarter. It was a privilege to get to know them all.

8. Learn how to cook.
I have made certain strides in the culinary arts this year, many of which being pasta related. In fact, this resolution is making me hungry for some gnocchi. Mmmm… Gnocchi…

9. Lose a few pounds.
While I haven’t lost any pant sizes or anything, I feel a bit healthier this year. I try to eat healthier, and I also have been told by family and friends in the last few months that I look a bit thinner. Who knew eating salad instead of mac and cheese could have such a profound effect??

10. Pray more.
I have been trying to, but to be honest I don’t really feel any closer to God since last December. Perhaps my close encounters of the educational kind will help me see God in my students.

 

It would appear that I met at least half of my goals this past year. Not bad, amiright?

Now about this crazy 2011… I could make a joke about our apparent lack of flying cars, but we all know those won’t show up until 2015 (thanks Doc Brown). As for my view of this next year, all I can say is that I feel like I’m on the home-stretch. I’m six months from graduating college, and nine months from (hopefully!) working in my own classroom. The horizon has never felt so close.

That being said, let’s see my resolutions for this year:

 

RESOLUTIONS FOR 2011

1. Go to at least 5 live concerts this year.
I’m tired of always hearing about the most awesome show in the world. I WANNA GO!

2. Talk to a publisher of some sort about putting out a collection of my work.
Who knows? Maybe someone out there will like what I have to say.

3. Visit California, including the Happiest Place on Earth.
That’s right. Disneyland. Though, to be fair, I want to check out most of southern CA.

4. Help out a stranger in need.
Whether it is jumping a car or giving someone $20, people need to be reminded that humanity is still out there.

5. Graduate from SPU.
It kind of goes without saying, but I’ve had so many obstacles to overcome during my time at Seattle Pacific that I’m going to take it one step at a time so that at the end of the day I know it was really me who did it.

6. Start saving some money.
I have a savings account, but it rarely has more than five dollars in it.

7. Get my own place again.
I figure with getting a job somewhere this summer, I’ll probably have to strike out on my own again.

8. Sponsor a child in a third world country.
My dad has been doing it for a while now, and I think it’s a noble cause to get behind.

9. Get a tattoo.
This one returns to the list with a vengeance! My 24th birthday is just around the corner, it’s about time I get one.

10. Get a dog.
If you know me, at all, you’ll understand how huge this one is to me. I love dogs. If I have to push this one back another year, I’ll be rather disappointed. I think that with finding a new place and starting my professional career outside of college, getting a new partner in crime would be a worthy goal to accomplish.

 

I know, right? It’s crazy. I don’t know what kind of shenanigans I will get into this next year, or who I will still be able to talk to twelve months from now. All I know is that if you’re reading this right now, I hope you’ve had a safe holiday, and that I hope we can reconnect within the coming weeks. I love each of you.

Oh, and thanks for reading! 🙂

MSBQ