Monday, December 31, 2012

The Aloha Kugs year in review including why I don't apologize for marrying up.

Aloha again on New Year’s Eve.  I hope that this finds you and yours well as we once again stand on the precipice of a new year. 

It has been an interesting year, but a good one for us here in Kugs-ville.  It has had its challenges and difficulties, as I imagine all years have and will have, but I’d like to think as I look back, it was a good one more than it was not.

2012 really started for me on January 2, as that was the day I committed to get myself in shape and live a healthier life.  Along with a group of friends, we started a “Biggest Loser” contest over Facebook.  The results for me and my friends have been dramatic, and I lost over 80 pounds.  I ran six 5k races, did Insanity twice, and got rid of loads of fat clothes, as I’m never going back again.  The group has added members and done subsequent rounds (I came in third in round one) and has really become a source of support and inspiration for me all year long.  I’m happy to say that I am still living at a healthy weight, though I’ll admit to some holiday indulgences, but plan to run three miles tomorrow and schedule another race at the end of the month.  I won’t go back to being fat, and the group really helps.  If you’re interested for yourself, please email me.  That change in me and how I feel about myself if by far the most significant change for me personally this year.  I entered 2012 an obese man with high blood pressure.  I enter 2013 in the best shape of my adult life itching to run a 5k.  I owe that to the group, to my family for their support, and to that little voice inside my head that keeps reminding me of what it’s like to look in the mirror and be disgusted.  I’m in a way better place and that all started January 2 of 2012.

But, there was a whole year to come!  So, what happened this year?

I visited Indianapolis with the wife this summer; Great city.  I did a number of columns on the craft beer scene there and the city in general.  I really liked it and did not expect to.

I also visited Aurora, Colorado.  A week after the shootings.  It was a very interesting visit.  I did another craft beer tour and enjoyed it a great deal.    I saw Roller Derby with my friend Sonic Death Monkey, and wrote about that.  Aurora and Denver were very cool and I’d like to go again.  The shadow of the Dark Knight tragedy hung in the air there in a very palpable way. 

On a delightful trip to NYC in the Spring, I both met Pulitzer Prize winning composer Ned Rorem and saw the Book of Mormon.  Both were amazing experiences.  Ned wanted to hear all about my writing.

This summer we took the whole family to see a live performance of A Prairie Home Companion.  We’ve loved the show for years and finally got to be part of the live crowd at Wolftrap.  That was a great night.  The kids dancing on the lawn to the “Powder Milk Biscuit” song was worth the price of admission alone
I watched a lot of youth Soccer, and rugby and Tae Kwon Do.  And tumbling.  The bear tumbled.  She does that a lot now.
I went to a ton of kid birthday parties.

We threw a few adult dinner parties.  Parent’s night out at our Church can’t come often enough. 

We watched the Bear cross the bridge at preschool.  And start Kindergarten.

Went to Connecticut with the family, where despite Homewood Suites attempts to give me coronary, we had a successful visit in a hotel, our first since the Thanksgiving incident of 2011.

I took the Boyo to Wildwood.  Just him and me.  We rode and ate everything.  I embraced the power of yes.  He loved it and can’t wait to go back.  I can’t wait either.

I cooked a ton of stuff this year.  Highlights: Several Turkeys, several Hams, a heap of Kalua Pigs, a fair amount of Avocado Ahi Poke’, bunch of soups, and a whole lot of other things.  Doing a Hawaiian Luau tomorrow for New Years.  Kailua Pig, Cabbage, Edamame, Macadamia nut everything, maybe a tofu Poke’, some pineapple, and Kona Longboard.  Wearing my Kukui nut lei too, because I can.
I hope they run “The Eddie” this year on the North Shore.  I’m missing the island and feel very much like that would help.

This was a bad year for professional sports in our house.  The Phillies stunk.  The Eagles stunk worse.  The Buckeyes were good but banned from postseason play.  And the Flyers aren’t yet allowed to play.  Dark days indeed.  I’m hopeful they will end the NHL lockout soon as the Boyo and I need our hockey something fierce.  We very much enjoyed the Olympics though.  A lot of fun moments there and the Boyo still points out Michael Phelps every time we go into Subway, which I appreciate as they also have a picture of the Redskins RG3, which he pointedly ignores, as per his training as a Philadelphia Sports fanatic.  I’m very proud. 

I finally fit into my lederhosen.  Owned them for almost two years but finally got to wear them as I enjoyed the 15th Annual Cleveland Oktoberfest with my guys.  That’s all I have to say about that, as what happens at Oktoberfest…oh, but I did run the 5k at the fest and did a personal record at the time.

I was asked to teach Sunday school to the 13 year old class at church.  I agreed for a variety of reasons.  We’re committed to the church but I also, for me, wanted to know if I had anything left in the tank as a teacher.  It’s been over a decade since I was a classroom teacher, and I guess I wanted to know if I still had it.  I know now.

And, at the end of all the discussions, columns, and other assorted chatting on the topic, I ended up going back to work.  Not as a teacher and not as a Vice Principal, Athletic director, or even Dean of Students.  I went back to work as a server/bartender at George Washington’s house.  It’s part time and flexible, as restaurant work has (gratefully) always been for me.  After years of wondering, in the end, I just didn’t want to go back to a job that would make me miss things like volunteering for Field Day, or helping out in the library, or going on a field trip.  Or wearing my colonial garb to the twins’ classes to discuss holiday traditions in Colonial America.  One of the best comments I got all year was from one of the twins’ classmates who tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I feel like I see you here every day!”  While I’m not there daily, it made me feel good to know that they know who I am, and that I care about helping out in their classes.  I don’t want a job that keeps me from doing those things for the kids.  And I don’t need it for my ego.  I’m quite content being a bartender/server who volunteers at the kid’s school.  I mean, I get to wear tights at work…But I know its growth for me, as there were years that my priorities were different.  Hawaii cured me of a lot of that, and I feel even better about my choices now, with the life we have, challenges and all.

We watched a decent amount of TV this year.  “Downton Abbey” was awesome.  Can’t wait until the next season. “Louie” on FX may have been the best thing on TV this year.  Louis CK is a fierce comic who I’ve always been a fan of, but this show he’s put together over the last few seasons is truly brilliant.   “Game of Thrones,”  “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Walking Dead” were all very good too.  “Doctor Who” and “Merlin” on BBC have been good, and the history Channel’s “Mankind” series was well done also. 

I read a lot of books this year.  I discovered the work of Cleveland’s own John Scalzi, beginning with “Old Man’s War.”  Read and enjoyed all of his work before discovering and devouring the first two books in Justin Cronin’s “The Passage” Trilogy.  Eeesh they were awesome.  Cronin writes in a way that is intimidating to me as someone who likes to write and aspires to write something that people want to read.  “The Book Thief,” by Markus Zusak and “The Descendants” by Kaui Hart Hemmings were both good too.  I really enjoyed Colin Meloy of “The Decemberists” second novel in the “Wildwood” trilogy “Under Wildwood.”

I have worked on a number of projects of my own this year.  I made a great deal of progress with “The Last Good Day” which was my “NaNoWriMo” project.  I have a full outline and loads of notes and plan to dive back into it in the New Year.  If you’re interested in being a beta-reader for the early chapters, please message me as I have some ready for review.  I’ve neglected the blog a bit since the summer.  Sorry.

I just got a ton of ITunes cards for Christmas, but looking over the music I’ve enjoyed this year, Bruce Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” and Mumford & Sons “Babel” were among the highlights for me this year.  I’ve liked a few tracks from the new Bruno Mars album, and John Mayer’s “Born and Raised” has been a nice listen.  Fell in love with Allison Kraus and Union Station this year a bit; The Black Keyes too.  “Gold on the Ceiling” may be my new favorite song of the year. 

Through my genealogical research and packing up Grammy’s basement and finding it, I now have a picture of my great-grandmother.  It’s been the elusive piece of 20 years of research. 

I didn’t see a ton of movies this year, you know, having kids and all, but “The Avengers” was good, as was “The Hunger Games.”  “Lincoln” was amazing.  “Silver Linings Playbook” was fun too.  “Argo” was surprisingly good.  I would have enjoyed “Django Unchained” even more if some guy in the theater hadn’t decided to make it all about himself screaming at the screen every time a character used a particular racial term.  Haven’t seen “Skyfall,” “Perks of Being a Wallflower,”  “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Hobbit” or “Les Mis” yet, but I will.  “Ted” was funny.  I am excited to see Disney purchased Star Wars. 

In reviewing the year, it seems a lot of interesting people died.  While it’s not exhaustive, they included: Daniel Inouye, Andy Williams, Michael Clarke Duncan, Adam “MCA” Yauch, Neil Armstrong, “Sweathogs” Robert Hegyes and Ron Palillo, Gore Vidal, Sherman Hemsley, Ernest Borgnine, Ray Bradbury, Richard Dawson, Donna Summer, Levon Helm, Dick Clark, Davy Jones, Dave Brubeck, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Whitney Houston, Don Cornelius, and Etta James.

Also, there were losses closer to home, friends from HHS, Vanessa and Alex.  I’ve thought a lot about them and their families tonight as they start a new year.  I hope and pray they are well.

Outside of all of the above, I am hopeful for the New Year.  While there have been horrible life-altering events this year, including Newtown, Aurora, Sandy, and crisis after crisis across the world, I am hopeful for this New Year.

I know more about Asperger’s and about Mood disorders than I did a year ago.  Imagine where I’ll be in a year.

I know more about how to live a healthy and fit life by being a “Loser.”

I know that there are things that I’m good at and there are things that I like to do and while they are not always the same, there is a balance to be found for all of those things somewhere in the middle, and that’s my goal for the New Year: to have better balance.

That, and have the hockey come back and Flyers win the Stanley Cup, the Phillies surge forth and win another World Series and take the kids to see a bunch of games, and go to Wildwood with the family and ride the Ferris wheel, and maybe finish this book that I’m writing and get it published to rave reviews and huge sales, and maybe have the Eagles make a playoff run and the Buckeyes drive towards a national championship. 

But, I’ll settle for better balance.  In the end, that’s quite likely the more responsible wish. 

And I celebrated my 20th year together with my wife.  13 years married and two decades together have taught me one very, very true thing: Marrying her was the best thing I ever did, and our partnership is the greatest enterprise I’ve ever been a part of. 

In fact, it’s among the most clear and present indicators that God is present in my life in a very real, cogent, and visceral manner. 

I make no apologies for marrying well.

Happy New Year.