I tend to be a glass-is-half-full (of vodka) kinda guy, but I’ve got to admit that 2017 kicked me in a few places that I only show to my wife. I do have a lot to be grateful for, and the universe seemed to take its time punishing me for that. As an exercise, for everything I have to bitch about in 2017, I’m going to try and share something I loved about this year. This is for myself and my sanity, so I can look back one day and say, you have every reason to be frustrated but good job keeping your chin up. (And no politics. Other people do a much better job of whining about that than I ever will.)
PRO: I’ll start with something amazing – my family, who are all alive and well and happy. Beyond being supportive and loving and everything I could hope for, they’ve achieved their own successes. My wife continues to help geeks in Kansas City find their people with www.kcgeeks.com. It’s a great resource that visitors appreciate, and I’m proud of her. My daughter rocked her college classes this year as she continues to pursue her career in IT Security. My son is halfway through his second year at Columbia Law in New York, and I couldn’t be more proud.
CON: On July 6th, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I think I’ve actually had it for quite awhile. It’s not like a bug bite that suddenly appears;, there have been signs I can look back on and say, “yup, that makes sense now.” I’m getting treatment, prepping for battle, and have amazing support from friends and family. (Amazing doesn’t even begin to express my gratitude.) My symptoms are more annoying than bad, like tremors, depression, and irregular sleep, but they could be far, far worse. Compared to most with the disease, I have it pretty easy right now. I also have a lot of hope. Progress has been made in finding better treatments, and I do believe there will be a cure one day. I recently shared an interview with Michael J. Fox to my personal Facebook page that I encourage you to check out. I don’t share this looking for pity, or as my wife and I say, “poor baby”. I want people to know so they can see I haven’t given up and am ready to face it with strength and good humor, even though it’s dumb.
PRO: One of my highlights this year was a Colorado vacation with my tribe. My friend and muse Marina worked hard to find us a great AirBnB. The group of us have been on long weekend getaways together for several years now. I’m always enjoy the time, and appreciate being included. I’ve been to Colorado with my friend Matt multiple times, and have always wanted to share the mountains with more friends. Also, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, because the vacation started on July 6th, the day I was diagnosed with my Parkinson’s. My friends…my muses and their significant others…my wife were all there for me, and that’s exactly what I needed.
CON: We lost our dog this year. Hally was a part of our family for 13 years. She was a poorly trained, cancer-ridden, labrador-something that we adopted. She was also perfect fit. We loved her, and I’ve missed her every day since she’s been gone. I still expect to see her when I get home from the day job, and listen for her at night. It hit me far harder than I expected.
PRO: I couldn’t be more grateful for my readers, and I mean that. Three readers, on separate occasions at two different cons, told me I was the reason they were there. For an indie writer with only four published books, each occasion left me speechless. I don’t feel that I deserve it, and couldn’t be more inspired by those words. If you ever think that your “thank you” goes unnoticed, you’re wrong. I read my reviews, as many writers do, both for the encouragement and to see if I need to fix anything. I may never make a dime at this, so it means that much more to me when someone gets my writing, enjoys it, and take a minute to thank me. So, let me thank you for the opportunity to share a part of myself, and my stories. Your support humbles me, and I promise, I don’t take it for granted.
CON: Health issues abounded in my home this year. Along with a bout of vertigo (which is far worse than you can imagine), and after having her gallbladder removed, my wife was diagnosed with gastroparesis. I’m not going to go into the details, but in short, this was dumb. This was like the Universe saying, “Here’s one more thing.” She’s rolled with it like a champ, but it’s annoying and unwarranted. Fuck the Universe.
PRO: My muses. I am eternally grateful for Cristi, Marina, Mayra, and now Sarah. We live in a world where “booth babes” are frowned on and politically incorrect. However, I’d like to introduce you to my world, which tends to be a little different from everyone else’s. My muses read my books. Not because I asked them to, because they like them, they’re my friends, and they support me. They cosplay as Berfemmian, fierce Amazon warriors, because they enjoy it. One person on Twitter this year said my muses costumes make them uncomfortable. My answer, come to a con and tell them how to dress. I won’t try telling them that, but I’m happy to bring the popcorn and watch as they verbally kick your ass. My muses are awesome, fun, and make my life better. They inspire me, like muses should, and I wouldn’t want to do this without them.
There’s more, lots more. We had an amazing trip to my alma mater – UW Madison. I completed a novella which I can’t wait to share. I was also a guest at Manticon. I could bitch about other family health issues, my frustrations with being an indie writer, my struggles with waking up in the morning and making it to work on time – but isn’t that life? I’ve always believed that you won’t appreciate the good without the bad. This year, I really appreciated the good, and needed every bit of it.