Another year staggers out to the alley and dies and a new year replaces it. Birthday’s always seemed to be a more important marker for individuals than New Years because they actually convey a milestone to the person. Perhaps we shouldn’t make New Years resolutions, but birthday resolutions. Yet, I think more people see birthdays as an opportunity for hedonism, so why bring self-reflection into it? But that’s what birthdays are ideal for: self reflection. I can look back at the previous year of life and look forward at the year that stretches ahead of me and make decisions about who I want to be and what I want to do. So as the final, dying gurgling of 30 cease and 31 looks around and asks, “What’s the plan?”, here is an overview of the things that seem important from the previous year.
Jennifer and I Bought A House. In what has to be one of the smoothest first-time home-buying examples anyone could hope to have, Jennifer and I found the house we wanted on our first outing and had made and offer and been accepted within, I believe, a week. This wasn’t how either of us thought the process would go, expecting at least a month of searching. Everything was signed and transferred in time for us to move on the first day of our vacation, which had been planned long before we even decided to look for a house. Thankfully, we hadn’t planned our vacation beyond the dates we would take off from work, so our vacation turned into a week-long moving/settling party. Not terribly relaxing, but we didn’t have to find energy to contribute to the moving process after a long day at work. We are still trying to arrange things to suit our tastes and aesthetic comforts and we still need a few pieces of furniture (primarily book shelves and a 42-inch flat-screen TV (well, that last isn’t really a need)), but we are largely settled and able to function on a day to day basis. I hope in the coming year I can get the guest room/writing room set up to my tastes and that my wife can figure out how to arrange her office because that would relieve a bit of stress in her life. I would also like to get that TV I mentioned, but I won’t hold out a lot of hope on that.
Film Noir. As a child I was always fascinated by stories of detectives. The problem is that my only exposure to these stories were cartoons that riffed on the film noir / hard-boiled detective style. A few months ago I discovered Philip Marlowe during a snowstorm. As is typical with me, I went the roundabout way, discovering the Adventures of Philip Marlowe radio show from the 1940s and 50s. I still haven’t read any of the novels by Raymond Chandler, but I do have an omnibus with four. It is up next when I finish my Stephen Lawhead’s The Skin Map. The radio show was everything I wanted from noir and I began compiling a list of movies. Thus far I have seen Double Indemnity, Chinatown, The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential, Call Northside 77, and Quicksand. What fascinates me most about the genre is that I seem to enjoy the movies regardless of quality. The Black Dahlia, while not a bad movie, doesn’t really work, but I still liked it. I think I prefer the movies from the 40s and 50s a bit more because, while edgy at the time, are tame compared to modern standards. But I find the genre a lot of fun and I have plans for a story in the style of noir which will be wedded to–
H.P. Lovecraft. I love the concepts behind Lovecraft and have wanted to write a novel about Lovecraft and Houdini investigating supernatural mysteries. It would be The X-Files meets Sherlock Holmes. While not totally abandoned, I think I will put this aside for the time being. But in my research of Lovecraft, I have grown to have more appreciation for his work. He may not have been the best writer (by some standards), but he was fiercely imaginative and at times it feels that he wrote, not to be great, but to get all the ideas and images out of his head. That what he saw and dreamt could not be contained and had to emerge in his writing. Yes, he was a bit of a disturbed individual, but if you read his stories in chronological order, you see the mythology and concepts building, sometimes starting two or three times before finally being born. And when you keep in the back of your mind that this was the same time that F. Scott Fitgerald was writing, it seems rather astounding. Maybe there is room for a literary mash-up of The Great Gatsby and Cthulhu.
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that you serve the all-high Cthulhu, ruler of Earth and devastator of man.”
Writing. I think I have written more this year than all others combined. In October, inspired in part by my friend Cody and his Popgun Chaos Blog, I launched The Edwardian Adventurer, a blog devoted to reviewing episodes of Doctor Who in chronological order. My goal was to combine a watching a show I enjoy with motivation to write. If I could maintain a daily blog, it would be a great way to form a habit of writing. The blog enters its fifth month and I haven’t missed a day of the five-day a week schedule. This past week I even hit 100 episodes reviewed. And while it would be quite the accomplishment to have amassed over 100 posts (over 150 pages of content), I am even more thrilled to say that people actually read it. I have had over a thousand unique views in the last few months. I don’t know how many of those are people who are regulars (probably no more than thirty or so, if site stats are to be believed), but it is an audience and a type of success. What’s more, it has made it easier for me to self-motivate and write. I now find myself wanting to write much more than I have the opportunity. In fact, it is my birthday, and rather than watch a movie or finish a book, I am writing.
Stress. I made it my goal to hit 31 without having a nervous breakdown. I made it, but I think I just barely made it. The thing is, there is an immense amount of stress in Jennifer and my life right now. Work and long hours have been hard on both of us. Looking forward, I don’t really see an end to it any time soon, but I admit that I am planning and plotting regardless. And just like with the aforementioned writing, there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be accomplished.
Grant Morrison. I’ve always enjoyed Grant Morrison’s writing on whatever comic he was on, but watching the documentary Talking with Gods made me appreciate the man even more. I don’t remember which person said it, but the gist was that Morrison is a man who looks at a cold, indifferent, meaningless universe and decided that the only way to rebel is to be happy. This resonates with me on some level because life seems overwhelming right now. Thus, I find inspiration from Morrison. Yes, his comics can be dark, they can be post-modern and trippy. But they are also a celebration of all that comics can be. They are celebrate the potential of the medium. I think that is at the core of so much of his writing, rejecting the “real-life, gritty” view that comics seem to have taken ever since Watchmen, and saying that we can still have fun. We can still have hope.
So, in the coming year, I can guarantee more Doctor Who reviews. I hope to rid my yard of grubs and, by extension, moles. And I hope to write more. I would love for my writing to move from hobby to somewhat financially supportive. I’m about halfway through a short story that I think has potential. I’ve got an idea for a story (I actually started it in my Facebook status one day while bored), but it needs a bit more fleshing out. Then, there’s a rather dark novel floating around. We’ll see where that goes.
Here’s to another year….