Another year has come and gone, and for me 2009 amounted to little more than a boring holding pattern of existence. Not much really turned me on this past year and my life seemed kind of on auto-pilot. Now it's 2010, I'll be hitting forty-five in June, and I feel a surge that has been building for some time, a surge to rearrange aspects of my life across the board. While some of my friends have been suffering from the so-called midlife crisis for the past few years, I don't recognize such a happenstance in my own now-middle-aged self, perhaps because I've already undergone an number of existential and emotional kicks in the head and heart since I was a teenager.
I've reached the age where I and many of my contemporaries were raised to believe we'd all be married and successful to some degree, hopefully with our shit together, and while I have certainly not achieved the first of those states of being and currently subsist at a level that could kindly be called lower middle class, I am not unhappy and I think I'm in a better psychological/emotional place than I've ever been. Some of you who have known me intimately for decades have commented on that and I find it kind of odd to exist in a state that's less dysfunctional, turbulent and drama-driven than my life was between my college days and now. I've kicked the majority of my obvious self-destructive behavior to the curb (apparently obvious to most except me) and now actually feel like I'm at a stage when I can proceed with making good on my frequently-espoused New year's goals, chief among which is to get serious and lose weight while getting into the best shape I've been in since the mid-1980's. I was not what anyone would have called Bruce Lee back then, but I was a damn sight better than I became during over two decades of unchecked indulgences in assorted intoxicants, a diet that would have gagged Elvis, and repeated wanderings into minefields of drama navigated with others who were just as fucked-up as I was was (if not moreso). These days I actively avoid such mess and I'm much happier for it, so with about a year's worth of relative calm and clarity in which to ruminate on this stuff, here's what I seek to achieve in 2010, "the year we make contact":
- Last year, my older and incredibly cool sister, Janice, the second of my dad's four kids by three different women, tracked me down on Facebook and we've been tight via long distance ever since.
Frankly she's the elder sibling I wish I'd always had, complete with a shared outlook on many things and an appreciation for the dulcet musical stylings of Blowfly, but the whims of fate conspired to keep us apart and out of touch for over three decades. She currently resides in Arizona and I plan to haul my ass out there to see her and meet her daughter (my niece) and her recently-born twins (my grand-nieces!!!), as well as a number of cousins and such that I knew nothing about until a few months ago.
- My dear friend Steve Hughes and his unexpectedly cool wife, Natuza, are currently living in her hometown of Sao Paolo, Brazil, where they are also raising their toddler, Liam, and I've been invited down there to have an all-around kickass time. I've known Hughes for almost a quarter of a century and I never expected a born-and-raised Bronx Irish boy like him to end up in Brazil, so I cannot wait to witness the incongruous culture shock firsthand.
- During my trip to the UK last May, I ate the oh-so-yummy and oh-so-bad-for-you British cuisine with an unstoppable vengeance, which opened the door to several months of "I don't give a fuck" over-eating of rich and ultra-fatty foods and the collateral weight gain that goes with it. I'm not at all pleased with what a jiggly fucking load I've become and I am now going to take the necessary measures to set my body as right as possible by joining the gym around the corner and eliminating the bad stuff from my diet. I am fully aware that that will in no way be an easy task, especially since I'm not only a food-addict but also a guy who loves to cook, but I intend to be around at least long enough to see my growing legions of nieces and nephews reach adulthood, and if I'm gonna do that I've got to get tough. Time to channel my kung fu resolve into different avenues of concentration.
- I've had a number of projects in various states of development or semi-completion for a while now, and I'm finally focused enough to finish the damned things and move on to fresher things. Hopefully these efforts will prove somewhat lucrative and start to move me out of my living from hand to mouth existence.
- A few close friends have loaned me money over the past six years during times of severe financial distress and told me to pay them back whenever possible, with no rush. If truth be told, I have taken unfair advantage of their beyond-the-call-of-friendship kindness and allowed myself too much leeway in returning their kind loans, so now I plan on paying them back every cent that is owed, as soon as possible and definitely before the end of the year. Once I've purchased a new computer to replace my long-in-service and recently deceased home laptop, the reimbursements will begin.
- A few years back I dated a woman with whom I broke things off for a number of legitimate reasons, and despite the breakup we've remained very close friends ever since (not actually all that surprising since we were friends beforehand). I'm the first to admit that my romantic life has been a textbook study of dysfunction, often fueled by my unintentional status as a "nutter-magnet" (as my pal Chris Weston so astutely puts it), and I intend to spend time figuring out exactly what it is that I'm doing wrong and hopefully landing a long-term girlfriend. Brief dalliances can be fun and I certainly enjoy the occasional "friends with benefits" arrangement, but when I look back on my amorous adventures of the past decade, the woman from a few years back constantly returns to my thoughts and those thoughts are always extremely fond. Since the breakup a day hasn't gone by where I don't think of her and zone out with my eyes half-closed and with an ear-to-ear dopey grin on my face, and in recent months I've given serious thought to going there again. I know I'm in a better place emotionally than I was while we were together and I hope the same can be said of her, so wish me luck. And to those of you who know me in the world outside the Internet, no, the woman in question is not the usual suspect that you think she is.
- I will finally — FUCKING FINALLY!!! — get my apartment organized and chuck/sell an and all extraneous crap that I have accumulated during the twelve years I've lived there. Something's gotta give and I won't be moving in the foreseeable future, so a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
- In keeping with getting the physical state of the Vault in order, I would like to get some of my original comics art framed and display it on the Vault's walls. There are several pieces that I'd like to frame, plus a gorgeous poster for the fourth Lone Wolf and Cub movie, BABY CART IN THE LAND OF DEMONS, that needs similar showcasing, and considering how much a decent frame-job can go for, this goal may have to wait until next year rolls around.
- I will continue to avoid as much pointless, negative drama as possible, thus keeping my recent state of considerable tranquility intact. These days my sanity is right around the top of my list of priorities and I can't believe it took me so long to assign it a proper level of value. Better late than never, I suppose.
Oh, and not that it means anything, the song that's playing as I conclude this is the excellent surf-flavored cover of the Dead Kennedys' classic "Moon Over Marin," as played by Les Thugs.
A perfectly good tune to ring in the year with.