2019 – The Almost Lost Year

It’s odd thinking of 2019 as “last” year. So close to “lost.” Indeed, 2019 was almost a lost year in many respects.

I drafted this blog the other day but realized after 1,000 words that I was wandering. It didn’t help that I’m still fighting the flu/holiday crud. So let’s shift to bullet points, eh?

Major themes of 2019:

  • my daughter’s preparation for college
  • changes in my professional life
  • my aging parents
  • oh yes, that writing thing

The teen

  • Applying to college is HARD
  • There is research, online visits, physical visits, tests, more tests, essays, and auditions if you’re a theatre kid
  • Trying to balance all that while maintaining good grades is well, trying
  • Costs are insane. We’ve been saving since she was born and it’s still going to be tricky. (It’s also the reason I’m still working unpleasant jobs.)
  • Early on, we threw in the towel and hired an admissions counselor. It’s not the same thing as the Varsity Blues scandal.

While there are still applications pending, I am relieved to report that at least one theatre program has extended an invitation and some scholarship money. We won’t know the final outcome for several months but my wife and I can start thinking that yeah, maybe we didn’t screw this one up.

Day job

  • Started looking for a new job in mid-2018 following Kyocera’s corporate realignment and departure of my best friend on the team
  • Found a small, ninja-like team at Kaiser who were doing interesting things in WordPress and U/X
  • Abandoned regular employment for a new contract, only to discover that upper management had been working on a major reorg
  • In the space of a few months, my senior manager retired, my manager retired, the technical liaison quit, the marketing writer quit, and several contractors were eliminated
  • The two remaining folks from the original team had to re-apply for their jobs with a very secretive, inflexible, bureaucratic-worshipping cult based in Inda.
  • I started looking for work again in mid-2019

On the plus side, my new line manager is much more open to remote work, which has been a gift considering the situation with my parents.

The Elders

Back in 2018, the entire family got together to discuss moving my father into an assisted living facility. He was still pretty functional, despite multiple bouts of cancer and other age-related issues (he turned 90 that year). Unfortunately, he delayed the move, and his physical and mental condition deteriorated.

  • Last summer, he ended up under psychiatric observation following a low-key incident at his local ER.
  • Upon release from the hospital, he went into physical rehab, then into a memory care residence. The transition was not handled well.
  • The ensuing problems have meant a lot of time on the phone and driving down to Central California to deal with stuff.
  • My mother is also dealing with various age-related illnesses and can no longer manage the house by herself.
  • Fortunately, one of my nieces lives nearby and helps out a lot, but it’s not really her job.
  • My siblings and I continue to work to try to find a resolution for their separate housing and preserving their finances.
  • The holidays were stressful. Full stop.

Stress and Writing

  • Too often, I found myself tired or stressed or sick, and the thought of tromping into the word mines was overwhelming.
  • I didn’t publish anything in 2019.
  • I sold two stories to the same magazine (in 2018 and 2019) but the magazine’s publisher had his own family and job challenges, which delayed and delayed the issues. In fact, I’m still waiting.
  • I worked on a lot of stories but only finished one new flash piece for a contest.
  • Managed to send out lots of submissions, though, and received several encouraging notes from editors.
  • I participated in NaNoWriMo. That helped.
  • It also helped that I organized my first writing retreat β€” Write Here Write Now 2019 β€” in Baltimore. Some very patient, good folks showed up and put in words. We had some much-needed fun.
  • The Nebula Awards conference in Woodland Hills also charged the battery. Seeing Space X was very cool.

Looking ahead to 2020

  • More self-care. I had three separate, nasty bouts of flu/bronchitis/crud in 2019. I lost about a month.
  • More writing and less news. The political world is a spinning dumpster fire on the best of days.
  • More reading – so many good things by good people. Why not enjoy that?
  • Letting go. The teen has reached her 18th birthday and will be heading off to college. Time to stop worrying about the little stuff.
  • Dealing with the inevitable. One or both of my parents may pass away soon.
  • Tea and whiskey.

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