Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2010 Year in Review

Yeah, I know, it's mid-February. This is one of those articles I started working on and then got distracted, but 2010 was ultimately a pretty decent year, and one that I still felt deserved to be summarized.

The year 2010 wasn't just a sort of crummy follow-up to the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Oh no, it was an actual collection of months (twelve of them by my count) in which various and sundry stuff happened. Some of that stuff happened to me. That's mostly what I care about, so I won't belabor the natural disasters, celebrity goings-on, political turmoil and other junk. John Steward and Stephen Colbert already covered those much more humorously than I ever could. I'm just going to focus on myself.

2010 was the year I started to get back into shape. I used to be in shape. And yeah, I know "round is a shape," but that's not what I mean. I mean I was in great shape back when I met my wife. I was hitting the Aikido dojo sometimes three hours a night, and usually four or five days a week. I was lifting weights, jogging, doing calisthenics, and there's no doubt that I was absolutely in the best shape of my life. Of course, I didn't have a girlfriend or much of anything to do, so I had lots of time for working out. Once that changed - I got engaged, finished college and got a job - I found I didn't have nearly as much time for fitness anymore. Plus, let's be honest, I never liked exercise all that much (Aikido was the exception - I loved that), and I was only doing it because I really, really wanted a girl to call my own. Once I had one, some of that motivation dissipated.

Regardless of the rhyme or reason, I definitely fell off the wagon there. I ate and drank a lot of calories and didn't do much to burn them off, to the point where by around 2000 I had swollen to 225 pounds. I stayed at that weight for around 10 years. I tried to get fit every so often. I bought a treadmill. That didn't help. Then I tried using the treadmill, but surprisingly that didn't really help, either. Which was discouraging. I counted calories, but that didn't help. Counting them wasn't my problem - eating them was the problem. 2010 changed all of that at last. I started karate in the spring, and started controlling my calories during the summer. By fall, I had lost 10 pounds, and by the end of the year I was up to 15! By mid-February, I'm actually brushing the edges of 25, which is awesome, but that'll have to wait for some other article, because it wasn't cool enough to have happened in 2010.

While I'm on the subject, 2010 was also the year I started my third or, arguably, fourth style of martial art. I did Tae Kwon Do for about a year as a kid under Albert Fortunato. I quit because I was a teenager who couldn't decide what he really wanted, and because being lazy is easier than doing Tae Kwon Do. Then as a college student I trained in Aikido for about a year at Aikido of Central New York. Which was awesome, but
I quit that, too, because I was poor and really needed to focus on starting my career. Which are also excuses, sort of, but they're true as well.

My wife, being a second-degree black belt in Goju-Ryu karate, was able to train me for a bit in her style, and then I also trained in it for two months under David Oddy in 2010, but there's no denying I'm a raw novice at that style. But 2010 was the year that I started training in Kenpo at Five Star Martial Arts, and it's my intention to stick with it for the long haul. If nothing else, it's been a huge help to me in getting back into shape and dropping all this weight.

But my past training also factored in to the year 2010. As I mentioned above, I got in those two months of Goju Ryu, where believe it or not I actually learned a lot in a very short time. But in addition, I actually attended my first Aikido training in over eighteen years, when Aikido of CNY hosted a seminar with a Sensei from Bermuda. It was great, and really reminded me how much I'd loved Aikido. I got to see some old, familiar faces and meet some new people.

2010 was also the year that I really got working on my novel - to the tune of a prologue and sixteen whole chapters written. That's less than half the total novel, which sucks because my original timeline over-optimistically called for me to finish the book by May of 2010. But it's a significant chunk of work, anyway, and I'm really proud of it. I'll be prouder when the damn thing's done, of course.

I wrote a short story, too. About a wizard. It was okay - I didn't really love it, but it was tailored to a particular anthology I was trying to get into. I actually came up with a huge list of "wizard-oriented" short stories that I may have to write up some day. I was quite taken with a few of them.

In the year 2009, I started learning to play the guitar. But in the year 2010, I gave my first semi-public guitar performance. Which is crazy, I know. And it wasn't very good, but it wasn't all that bad, either. I'm pretty proud of that. It would have been easy enough to utterly suck, but I didn't. I played for about three hours, through around eighteen different tunes plus some aimless strumming while people ate and chatted. That was pretty cool, but I'm not in any rush to play my next gig.

On a related note, no pun intended, 2010 was also the year I started playing the electric guitar. Which is really great, because it opens up a whole different sound and a wealth of different tunes I can play. My kids were busy, too - they started three new instruments: flute, piano and tin whistle. Aren't they cute?

As with most years, in 2010 I read a couple dozen books (at least). Some of them were really good.

In 2010, my family went to the Renaissance Faire twice in one season. For me, it was the first time in over fifteen years that I'd done that, and I don't think any of the rest of us ever had. I love the Renaissance Faire, and being able to play a dozen or so different faire tunes on my guitar gave me profound joy.

Lastly, but by no means least, 2010 was the year we adopted our cat. That's related to the fact that 2010 was the year I began my allergy shots. They're both expected to last for many years. I enjoy the cat quite a bit more.

All of that - and more - packed into twelve measly months.

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