[x]Year in Review 2016.

Theme in three parts:

"Motion Picture Soundtrack" by Radiohead

Part 1 - Tendrils

I think you're crazy, maybe.

When I last left off in 2015 I was living in an apartment that I didn't want to be in, and hadn't wanted to be in for a year.  I had put in an offer, which was accepted - on a house but was waiting for it to play out.  Ana had me on the ropes.  These factors played out into the first part of 2016 simultaneously, and I will do my best to describe them in some coherent order.  The Ana part played out throughout the year, but it needs to be condensed into its own part.

The Apartment - I was only in the apartment about 5 weeks into 2016.  Though it feels like years ago.  Mike and I weren't the friends we used to be, and will probably never be again.  I had lived with him in some capacity for the vast majority of my time down here in Florida in 3 apartments and 2 houses.  I like to think of it as overexposure, but the truth of it is I had changed, and thus we grew apart.  We barely hung out socially.  Most of my friends were his friends originally, and I don't really see the ones I like.  Some I miss, some I do not.  His vision of this place never met my expectations, but I will be forever thankful for everything he helped me with.  I'll never forget deciding to move down here on a whim while talking to him on the phone when I was back in Michigan.  He said I would thrive down here, and to be honest I finally and thankfully have.  I'll just leave it at that and wish him the best.

The House - Things got a little tangled up in the house.  This was one of the most stressful times of my entire life, and I barely slept for weeks, my mind racing at night with all of the competing possibilities.  I was saving money like crazy.  My Realtor, Sean Ferguson was awesome, and really helped me not freak out (too much)  It was held up in probate court for months and months, and mercifully the owner(s) let me rent the place on the cheap (It was just sitting vacant) while we waited for everything to be resolved.  At this time my mom came down and really helped me get set up.  It's funny how many things you don't realize you need for a house.  I had the keys to the house, but with the way everything played out we were dealing with an empty house.  Thanks mom!  She's the reason I have matching plates/cups/etc.  Courtney was also a big help in approving my vision/color scheme.  I moved in on February 9th.  I'll never forget the overwhelming feeling that I had when the movers pulled away, and left me alone in a house filled with boxes and furniture.  I finally closed around Memorial Day and have been a first time homeowner ever since.

Ana - She had come almost out of nowhere at the end of the previous year.  I say that because I was on cruise control with everything going on.  Looking back at the review from last year, I was really smitten with her.  I'm still not sure exactly what happened, but some time around x-mas she pulled back from me.  Maybe we were talking too much, I guess I'll never know.  I just thought it was nice to have someone to say good morning and goodnight to - and text throughout the day.  I don't recall doing anything at the time that wasn't reciprocated.  In the initial part of us hanging out in a non-professional manner (She used to work at one of the locations I taught at) - I was in a very pessimistic place when it came to the prospect of a relationship, or even a new friendship for that matter.  I had no faith in her, or me, or whatever us could be whatsoever. That is when something changed on my end.  I wanted to be a better person for her, but then soon realized that I just wanted to be a better person in general.  I don't think she ever fully realized what that in itself meant.  

I still don't know what happened.  I have always been pretty thoughtful when it comes to gifts, and the holidays are more and more important to me (probably because I am typically alone during them).  I bought her four things I though she would like and would find useful.  A blanket that was her favorite color because she was always cold, a backup batter charger (also in her favorite color) because she did not have one, a small stuffed penguin, and a larger stuffed penguin.  I also wrote a letter to describe the reason behind the gifts, with the intention of showing appreciation.  Look, I'm an unapologetic and hopeless romantic.  Maybe it was the effort or gesture, though I specifically told her not to read too much into it.  Not that I'm keeping score, but I'm still waiting on my gift that she said she had ordered...  :)

And then, poof, she was gone.  I don't remember the specifics (Out of sight, out of mind) - but our communication tapered off significantly.  It got really awkward teaching where she worked, and I pondered asking for another assignment.  I put the bare minimum of social effort when I was there, and ducked in and out as fast as possible.  Things came to a head after I stopped talking to her altogether - about a month went by and she sent me a text and asked if we were done talking.  So I let her have it over that (in text where I am sure all of the context was lost).  Though sure enough I'm dumb and a sucker for beautiful girls, and sure enough we agreed to meet and talk.  That was a really hard conversation for me.  It hurt.  One of last things said on my part was "You leave me vulnerable enough to be disappointed" which sums up our entire history.  See the poem "Kevlar Sleeves" (This has actually become one of my favorites, go figure.).

I don't remember what the exact combinations of words were, but she said something (Almost verbatim) that I had said to someone in a previous relationship when I was having difficulty with it. This utterly disarmed me at the time, and I would be a hypocrite if I wouldn't give her the benefit of the though doubt (and there was a lot of it) that I had hoped to receive in the past. 

I told her that night in a phone call after that if she ever disappeared on me again - I wouldn't be able to handle it and it would be done.

We talked and saw each other sparingly, but nothing ever came of it.  She got another job in the fall, and I expressed my doubt that would hinder communication.  She didn't seem too concerned at the time.  I deleted her phone number from my phone to the cut the hands off of temptation.  When she changed jobs she was no longer on my work Skype.  So with no excuse to talk and without me trying to sustain communication - she disappeared again.  

The last time I saw her was in early October during hurricane Matthew.  I had a really good time that night, with her and some mutual friends.  She's fun to be around and I like who I am when I'm with her.  However, that was almost three months ago, and sadly I now see how much of a priority I truly was to her.    I see her pop up on Facebook messenger every once in a while, but I cannot bring myself to unfriend her.


These are binary days, and the existence of every one's DNA comes in 1's and 0's.

If anything it was not a total loss, as part of this package came with new friends, Thom and Ash, whom I love dearly.  They (and their family) have been great to me.  I don't have a lot of friends anymore so I value them greatly.  

Part 2 - Fortress of Solitude

Help me get back where I belong

Where was I.  The house...  Soon after my mom went back to Michigan, my father came down and stayed with me for about 6 weeks.  If you are unfamiliar, my parents are divorced.  When I was young my sister and I would spend weekends out with him.  In my 20's that gave way to the occasional meetup, doing a lunch or dinner here and there.  I had never really "Hung out" with my father, man to man.  I had a really good time, and we got along great.  He's awesome when it comes to handyman stuff - way beyond what I could accomplish on my own.  One of big things when I first moved in was to make everything as energy efficient as possible.  Got a Google NEST (Which I love) - installed all LED lights in the house.  Swapped out the kitchen appliances, put in a new water heater and ceiling fans.  He got up to all kinds of stuff.  Wish I had a ton of $$$ to pay him but I at the very least supplied the food (and the beer).  He got to hang out with his Grand-dog Cody for the first time too.  Hopefully he can make it back in 2017 and we can get into phase 2 - remodeling the kitchen.  I am looking forward to it.  

I never realized the scope of how similar we are in some things, and how different we are in others.  We have a similar sense of humor, but our dispositions are different.  Black Cloud Tribe!  I am hoping next year we can get out and do a bit more.

As hard as the first part of the year was, the middle part was just about as difficult.

After my father left the loneliness set in.  I knew it would take some getting used to, but it hit me really hard.  Everything was fun and exciting when I had first moved in, but after that wore off I was coming home every day to an empty house.  I had Cody, of course, who is a great listener.  

When you live alone you are socially responsible for yourself.  If you don't feel like going out or talking to anyone, so be it. There is no one around to talk to or make plans with.

A wave of sadness and despair just crashed over me every day.  On the way home from work I would be fighting back tears, and finally give in when I entered my front door.  I didn't have anyone.  Part of of me thought that if I didn't interact on Facebook or text anyone, people would forget that I was even alive.  No one called or texted to check on me.  I don't have a lot of friends anymore.  So was this it?  

That was really hard.  One night I was having a nervous breakdown in the middle of the night and I was crying so hard I was hyperventilating.  I couldn't breathe.

Something stepped in.  I don't know how to describe it.  It wasn't really a voice in my head, more of like a thought or an impulse.  It just said STOP.  My lungs filled with air (It felt like a paper bag being inflated in my chest) and momentarily - I felt at peace.

I am not a religious person.  Maybe that was God.  Maybe it was just my psyche triggering a survival mechanism.  Maybe I just passed out momentarily.  

The despair has been gone since.  Yes I still get sad and I still deal with depression every day, but that sense of having no hope has been gone.  

Thank you for that...

This is where another set of simultaneous series of unfortunate events shook my year up.  These might be slightly out of order as they were a blur.  

Lindsay - We were hanging out every once in a while.  One night at dinner she sprung on me that she was moving to England, which left me in shock.  We had dated years ago, and due to the circumstances of our breakup, we were still able to hang out as friends (Though, in truth I knew I still had some unresolved feelings for her).  She said she was going to move in and live with a friend (and his family) while she was getting established.  I even made a few jokes about that - surprisingly and unbeknownst to me how close I was to the mark in reality.  The last time I saw her was in June, and she moved in July.  

I turns out that she had been engaged since March, and had got married in November.  Obviously you don't just up and get engaged in a long distance relationship, so who knows how long this had been going on.   Lindsay is not a malevolent person in any way, shape, or form, but FFS - she could have said something.

It's funny how no one is ever malicious, but someone always ends up getting hurt.

To me - not telling the truth and lying are essentially the same thing.  I really wish people stop trying to spare my feelings in the future.  I'm tough, I can take it. 

Don't get me wrong, I am happy for her.  This was a dream of hers for a long time and I hope she finds success and happiness over there.  But I'm the one left holding the bag.  We're done.  She is blocked on FB, and I deleted her number.  She made a cameo in my life, and now she only exists in my past.  

These are binary days, after all.

There's just a difference in missing someone as a friend, and missing someone you still have feelings for.  That's a lot of wasted emotion, and people wonder why I have a limited capacity these days.

Terry - Terry was the previous manager on my team.  We had worked together for years, and had become friends beyond work.  He was my first and only mentor.  About halfway through last year, my team went through a program following the "5 dysfunctions of a team".  The point of whole thing is to identify issues that a team has to bring everyone together.  I hit the program in stride, and found a voice that I hadn't had before.  I loved it.

I'm still not sure about the specifics, but during the program it soon came to light that Terry and the team were not on the same page.  I don't know if he was asked to step down as manager (and still be part of the team) or what, but soon after he left the company.  

I let a little time go by and reached out to him.  I needed answers because of the way my mind works.  Obviously the company wasn't going to give me the specifics, but I wanted to at least figure out the general outline of what happened.  Needless to say more time went by and I still had no idea.  I just don't do well without closure.  I need a end point to move on (See Ana and Lindsay sections above).

In August we had the the Florida Realtor Expo, and this was our first major event without him (He had been replaced).  Though he was still in our thoughts (Did I mention that my team is like my second family?).  Over a lunch one day, one of my team mentioned that he had unfriended them on Facebook.  It absolutely broke my heart to see that was the case with me as well.  After all the times that I had bailed him out with work, the gestures I made in friendship afterward, etc. etc. etc.  I was simply tossed aside with the rest of them.

So this put me in a funk at work for a few months afterward.  Someone had moved my cheese.  I was so used to the the status quo and how everything worked, and it took me a while to find my legs under me again.  In retrospect I think I was using him as a crutch and a safety blanket.  In the time since his departure, my self-confidence at work has improved greatly.  Now I feel valued and I see my impact, whereas when he was leading the team I always felt like I was failing.  That's not on him, though, that is 100% on me. 

Terry did reach out via my company email to wish me a happy birthday and happy Thanksgiving, but I never responded.  It's for the best.  

At this point I've had enough of being cast aside.  People need to stop taking me for granted.  

Part 3 - The Count of Johnny Bronto

Stop sending letters
Letters always get burned
It's not like the movies

They fed us on little white lies

The last third of the year is when things picked up. We started to get closer to haunt season.

Courtney decided that she did not have time to do the show again this season. Though I would pitch ideas here and there leading up to the time of pre-production, she would ho-hum about it and wouldn't commit to doing another season. I changed the color scheme and cleaned up the branding. I don't think she was ever interested in doing a Season 2. She insisted this was "My Show" though I always thought of it as 50/50. We had created it together.

I get it, she had just started a new 9-5 job with a commute. I just wish she wouldn't have waited until the last absolute second to give me a definite yes/no. She actually stopped talking to me completely over the summer, thinking I was going to be mad if she didn't do the show again. I was honestly more mad about the lack of communication. When she finally gave me an answer, it was getting close to the wire. I was on the fence about doing the show again, and almost threw in the towel completely. Eric Dodson (Whom we had met prior to season 1 at the time he was with The Shallow Grave) has always supported the show and really pushed me to do another season.

Things started to come together. In the span of one week, my friend Keagan (Grimm Gutter) delivered the intro (which is amazeballs), Ashley volunteered to co-host, and I got the new animated intro. I put a lot of effort into the design of the show, and it was leaps and bounds better than the first season. The business cards were awesome too.

The haunt season was incredible. I did pretty much everything you can do - Halloween Horror Nights, Howl-O-Scream, The Shallow Grave, Chamber of Terror, Catharsis, Mortem Manor, Scream-A-Geddon, and The Vault of Souls. It was really expensive, but worth it. Most of my friends only do HHN and I really want to create awareness for the other haunts. I'm looking forward to having new stuff to do in 2017.

The networking was amazing, and I made great connections with some of the owners. I love haunt people, the are the best. I also met some new friends. (You know who you are and thanks for coming into my life).

The viewership was down a bit this year. I am not the social media and marketing guru that Courtney was, but Ashley and I did our best. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Once again I am not 100% sure if I am going to do another season. One, I'm bored with the format, and I don't want to just rehash and review everything all over again. I want it to be more of a show based on segments and bits. So we'll see how that goes. I'm going to need help.

Another thing worth mentioning was the few days that I had Milo.  I've always wanted a second dog so Cody would have someone to hang out with.  Unfortunately it didn't work out (My schedule doesn't lend itself to having a puppy), but I had fallen in love with the little guy.  It broke my heart to have to give him back, but I am sure he is in a better situation than I could have given him.

So that brings us to now...

For the first time in as long as I can remember I am not in love. I am not smitten or pining over anyone. Sure I have my crushes (I always do), but I don't have anyone on my dance card as of this second. That's a first for me on NYE in a long time.

Creative-wise, I didn't write much this year. I did collect all of my poems into one document that I want to self-publish. I've never been able to sit down and write - pretty much everything I've written has torn itself out of me. I guess maybe it's a good thing that I don't NEED to write like a used to. Things still bounce around in my head, but they are few and far between. I think it's a good thing, though I miss the poetry community. I want to go the meetups still but I feel like I would be a sham. I am not sure I would fit in with them anymore.

Health-wise, I've been sick since Haunt Season ended in early November. It comes and goes but I finally went to the doctor and I am hoping this prescription wipes out this flu/cold. I didn't quite diet or exercise/go to the gym as I had planned this year. I don't do well with constant transition and stress, which was pretty much 2016.

I miss my friends. There are some people who I've drifted away from, and didn't really mean to. I'm sorry about that. Once I put myself back together I want to reconnect with some people. Eva, Tony, Keagan, Amber, the Arnold ladies - that whole crew, Tarl, Jennifer, Mark, Andrea, etc. There are a ton of people that I would like to try and see more.

There are a few people that I met (at random) that I'm quite fond of. I met Katie right before HHN and was the only scareactor that I "Knew" to visit. She's about as benevolent as she is as my IQ and I drop dead beautiful. It actually took me aback a moment when I met her - I don't meet a lot of people these days that are genuinely well-meaning. She really does stand out.

I also met Brittany the last night of HHN (again at random) - who I feel like I share a kinship with but I can't really put my finger on as to why. I like her personality. We just clicked, but I feel like she could click with anyone.

Some people just have a spark in them that I value. I need to be with people who want me there. I am really looking forward to Melissa moving back here as well in the spring.

I just want a crew of people to do things with.

The Job - Work is going really well. I'm married to my job. The new manager Tamara is great, and we came up through the company together. I got a promotion and a raise which really helped. She looks out for my well being even when I refuse to do so. I love my company so much. I wouldn't be who I am today without it. am really looking forward to my 5 year anniversary as a trainer in February, and my 6 year anniversary in April.

This year was a crazy year in the world, but I am humble and thankful for everything in my life.

So - I've been working on my year end review for a few days now. This is probably one of the longest ones I've done, but I feel as though it is necessary to account for these things.

New Year's Resolutions for 2017 

1.  Put myself back together - fix this body, mind, and heart.

2.  Reconnect with friends.

3.  Don't spend next NYE alone like I will this year and have for most years down here in FL.

4.  Make Casa-De-Bronto even better.  

5.  Kick even more ass at work.

6.  Be a better person and find better people to be in my life.