Sunday, January 11, 2015

Thoughts Over the Past Year


2014 was a jacked up year. There were emotional highs among the clouds and very low valleys well below sea level. Highlights include bombs dropping, houses nearly felled, and visiting hospitals.

The year began as it ended. I was on leave of absence taking care of my wife from the end of December through the start of February. She had major surgery (and is fine) and was confined to the couch. We were both back to work by February.

I was not going to let my wife think she was the only one who could visit hospital emergency rooms. She visited three, only one was planned) in the year prior. I did not best her record, as I only had two unplanned. I did not include a planned visit.

The first visit was a food reaction while I was in Nebraska. There I was in Middle-of-no-place, Nebraska at 10pm driving around town looking for a clinic only to wind up in a hospital. Four hours later, freshly drugged, but not IV-flushed, I was back in my hotel. Six hours after that I was up swinging for the fences. I may have been drugged up post-allergic reaction to some food product or another, but you would not know it from the results of my work. I won an award at the day job for working through that mess with my usual aplomb.

The second visit was local and likely started as something similar. However, I probably overdosed myself with various drugs by accident. “Oh, hey, that didn't make the problem go away, let's try this other drug,” is not a good plan of attack. Just trust me on this one. Also, if you hear of an addict or junkie talking about bugs crawling under their skin, I think I have now experienced such an event. It is horrible and emergency room teams may or may not react properly to your face. Mine claimed to not know what was wrong with me, but may have had words with each other outside the room. Either way, I went home that same evening.

Come July, we had a party for my wife's birthday. We partied so hard the gods saw fit to send a terrible storm our way two days later. A sixty foot tree limb lept from its trunk into our house. Windows were broken, a door jam was busted up, the fence was damaged yet again, the siding was banged up, and a hole in the roof were just the start.

The entire start of the work on this house was a nightmare. Communication was spotty. However, once the work started, the wife and I were much happier about it. During bad communication with the adjustor and two contractors, a hive of wasps developed in the house at an entry point caused by the branch. I spent an entire weekend caulking windows and window frames, taping over the same windows and frames, using fly swatters and putty knives killing the wasps who were entering our home in both the upstairs and downstairs through two different areas on each floor. It was a very stressful weekend spending 30 minutes upstairs then 30 minutes downstairs, rinse, repeat. I had to push back a trip for work and hire a company to come out and kill them. They had to come out three times just for the wasps. I contracted them to do other work, as well.

In the mean time, the wife has taken to researching the house, houses like it from the era it was built, and we have begun changing the appearance to be more period. So, not only is the house different from the rest of the neighborhood because it is the most updated on the outside, it is starting to look like it should look. We are changing out light fixtures, changing doors and house numbers. On the inside, we updated the dining room furniture in January 2015 to a more formal look. As luck would have it, the living room light fixture needs to be replaced and the kitchen cabinets need knobs or handles. Luckily, the wife has read up on American Foursquare Prairie homes and knows what we need for the house. We may not go full authentic everywhere, but we are trying to give it a makeover to make it feel more like our home.

Come August, George invited me down to GenCon to talk with him. I visited on Saturday. The place was packed to the walls with gamers. The event has officially become too big for me to get everything done I would want to get done. George and I discussed the success of Adventure Maximus! and the future of Unisystem products. The end of the conversation is that I am not the main person behind the Unisystem game lines. George will remain involved, but I have much more room to do want I want. Bomb dropped.

Eventually, work began on the house. It's coming along nicely. As I type this, work continues. Our black and white exterior house is now meadow green with big, bold, white accents. The formerly screened-in, dingy porch is now an open, welcoming porch that helps set the property apart.

Work on Unisystem products has been haphazard. I've dealt with authors flaking out on me, me losing interest due to the stress of dealing with the house, stress of the day job and other typical life situations, occasional health problems with the dogs, and I started a health program offered for free through work.

I don't do health programs well. The last time I tried one, I was angry all of the time. This one is working better. I am down 18 pounds and have another 38 to go. I'm trying to build up to 360 minutes of exercise per week, a caloric intake of 1700 calories, increasing my typical fiber and protein diet, and doing it all at a slow, planned pace. The last time I dieted, I cut things too harshly leading me to crashing and burning.

I am leaving out plenty of things that happened in 2014, but these were the highlights. Games were played. Travel happened with the wife to Columbus and Chicago. Future vacations were planned with family and friends.

2015 has started as rocky as 2014 started smoothly. After all, we were at home everyday. I could write as often as I could sit down and not need to get up to care for the dogs or the wife. I could watch all the C*O*P*S or First 48 I wanted. 2015 is more about using the resources at hand to succeed and not letting the world hit me so hard I stay down for the count. Fighting to succeed at what I want to succeed at on my terms and not fail because the world hits harder than I have been hitting back. 2015 is about deciding what I want, how those desires stack rank, and accepting what it takes to make it happen. Is it more important to live where I do, where I have a support network of friends and family? Or, is it more important to me to live where the temperature is almost always above freezing and I have to make new friends. Money and enjoyment of life often go hand in hand, but must they? Are the hobbies I have hobbies or am I taking them too seriously? Is the day job really that bad or that good? These are not topics unknown to anyone. It's just time for me to start making some decisions and moving on to wherever they lead.

I have learned I need to do things differently. I need to listen to what others say (the wife and others) and try their methods more often. I don't have to admit I'm wrong about anything, I just need to learn to do things in different ways. (insert annoying smiley face here)

I hope the decisions I make this year are good ones. I hope whether or not they are the best decisions, they are decisions which help me grow and define me.

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