The Year in Review

As a species, we talk a lot about how fast time moves, but in all reality it doesn’t. That sense of speed is, more or less, an illusion. A year “flies by” only because we do not have the ability to recall, minute-for-minute, the entire time span. It’s like a good night’s sleep or a healthy dose of general anesthesia: if you have trouble remembering the passage of time, it’s naturally going to seem like it went by quickly.

Unfortunately this phenomenon has the potential to create a sort of temporal anxiety–a condition where your brain knows that a year has passed but can only recall about six minutes of it. This condition is worsened when you compare initial goals to final results. Like, how a year ago you vowed you’d finally clean up the garage and dammit!—now look at it.

To help combat temporal anxiety, I like to force myself to recall as many details about the year as possible. That way, instead of just looking at 365 days of nothing and saying, “Where did 2014 go!?” I can look at 365 days of trivial accomplishments and sadly say, “Oh, that’s where 2014 went.”

So without further ado, here’s my 2014 Year in Review. It’s long. If you want the tl;dr version: lots happened in 2014 and I’m looking forward to 2015.

Regular Life
Diet Life
After nine years, it was looking like my time at NCSOFT was coming to a close. I’d done all I could do, the hours were terrible, our primary project was being phased out, and to top it all off, they were moving my group to another state. What a perfect time to seek new and greener pastures. My first blog post of the year had me doing exactly what I’m doing now: pondering life and bemoaning my lack of progress in every creative area. I’d gained weight over the holidays (as usual) and started the year at 190. I labelled January 2 as Day One #111.5. Here goes nothing.
Resumes, emails, phone calls, and interviews. Life in transition. All creative fronts on hold. But hey, it’s only February, right? No need to be alarmed. I’ve still got ten or eleven months left of the year to do something. Right?! Diet #111 wasn’t clicking. Diet #112 began on February 3, starting things off this time at 193.5 pounds. I also spotted Day 9000 looming on the horizon. A day like that needed a goal. So I plotted out a route from here to there.
My Grand Plan for 2014.
Friday, March 7 was my last day at NCSOFT. Monday, March 10 was my first day at Apple. To my blogging friends and family out there, if you ever need any discounts on Apple products, just look for coupons and sales because I can’t help you there. I actually gained weight during Diet #112 which meant there was only one thing to do: start Diet #113. At 195, only five pounds into Onederland, my year end goal of hitting 176 seemed exceedingly impossible. Exceedingly.
After just a few weeks on the job, I took a few days off to travel to Dayton, Ohio where seven years of color guard came to a close in Dayton. Rachel competed with the Bowie Indoor Performing Ensemble and placed eleventh. Unfortunately, the deal we made required a top ten placement, so no ice cream for her. According to the Grand Plan, I was supposed to hit 185 on April First. The concept was sound: the first part of a diet is always that gung-ho, rapid-loss, happy period, and losing ten pounds in six weeks or so would be no problem at all. The reality: I was still 195 on my milestone date. C’mon already.
On our way to the competition.
This month was a blur. Work quickly got busy and I was already starting to work long hours again, trying to meet my first big project goal. Rachel was just weeks from graduating high school and a number of preparations for the end of the school year were underway. According to the Grant Plan, I should have lost three more pounds during April (my May First goal was 182). On the upside, I finally started losing weight. On the downside, I was still eight pounds over my impossible goal. This wasn’t going according to plan at all. But when does it ever?
Rachel graduated high school, so we had out of town guests, parties, and all else that goes into such things. To coincide with this event, we got new flooring in the house, at last ridding ourselves of the most embarrassingly horrid carpet I’d ever had the misfortune to trod upon. On a sad note, we had our dog Callie put down.

My first big project at work culminated in me conducting two weeks of software development training. The first week was in Austin. For the second week, I had to go to Ireland. And the day after I left for Ireland, Sarah headed off to France for a month-long study abroad program.

I kept up with Diet #113 through the first part of June, though by the third week, I was only down three pounds. Then my week in Ireland hit. I’m sure for most normal people, traveling means eating a lot more. Not me.

I don’t like traveling all that much, for a number of reasons. But eating too much just makes things that much worse. For me, physiologically-speaking, eating less makes me feel a lot better. To that end, I actually lost another three and a half pounds while overseas. Look for this secret revealed in my upcoming book, How to Lose Three Pounds in a Week for Only Five Thousand Dollars.

The Cliffs of Insanity.
When July hit, I finally felt like I had some time to myself again. So what did I do with this precious gift of time? Wrote a book? Composed some music? Nope. I poured it into a very long-term personal obsession of mine, Timekeeper. I began working on version 3.0 back in March of 2013. And every single month I think I’m just “one more month” from being done. I’m not. On the upside, Diet #113 continued to progress very well. I managed to get down to 181.5 by the end of the month, which suddenly made my impossible end-of-year, Day 9000 goal of 176 suddenly seem doable. As I reflected back on how many years I spent trying to get back to Onederland, it seemed surreal to now have that goal nearly twenty pounds behind me.
Rachel moved into her own apartment this month and started college. She’s studying animation at Austin Community College. I kept working on my blasted Timekeeper 3.0 software development project, further displacing time spent on better things. Diet #113 more or less bottomed out in August. From the beginning of the month to the end, essentially no change: 181.5 to 180. BUT! I hit a very important milestone between those two numbers: I breached the 180 barrier, even if it was only for one day.
First time below 180 since 2002.
Cue audio clip of The Hallalujah Chorus: I finished Timekeeper 3.0. Well, almost. I’ll say I finished up a public beta version of it, which was good enough for me to move on with my life. Well that only took nineteen months. Diet #113 was still flat. I essentially didn’t gain or lose anything. Worse, it ended up taking fifty-three days to hit 179.5 again. I was definitely hit a rut, a plateau, or whatever you want to call it. On September 30, I started Diet #113b.
My grand plan for 2014 not going well.
Back to more creative endeavors, October marked the first month of PBWQ. I spent it resurrecting a three-year old project, doing a lot of R&D, and preparing for a big month of writing in November.

My inability to produce a complete work of fiction has led to more than a usual amount of soul-searching. How long do you keep failing at something before you just quit and move on? I don’t know the answer to that, because I haven’t quit yet.

I find this notion simultaneously encouraging and disturbing. Either way, I’m still at it. And probably will be for a while.

Two issues spurred Diet #113b. First, I just wanted to get out of my rut. Second, and more importantly, I started worrying about blood sugar levels again. So I did two things: I cut out artificial sweeteners (primarily meaning: no more diet soda) and went low carb again. Except this time, “low carb” also meant “mostly plant-based foods”. It seemed like an innocent enough change, but holy heck did mother nature take it from there. I hit 174.5 on October 30, just one month after Diet #113b began. I very quickly went from thinking hitting 176 by December 20 was impossible to hitting it two months early. Wow.
My grand plan for 2014 actually worked?
NaNoWriMo kicked off with a large gathering of fellow wannabe writers at Dragon’s Lair Comics. I began writing right at midnight and ten days later, had hit my fifty-thousand word goal (with only twenty days to spare!). This wasn’t a finished book by any stretch of the imagination. But it was a complete story. Draft Zero. A fifty-thousand word synopsis of the most complete story I’d had to date. This was a big deal for me.

Thanksgiving rolled around as quickly as it always does, but my sister’s husband, whose been unwell for a while, took a very quick turn for the worse. My family, at our friends’ house for Thanksgiving dinner, politely finished up dessert, quickly packed, and jumped in the car. We drove twenty straight hours to meet Biz at the hospital.

My remarkable month of October dieting stopped. On the upside, I didn’t really gain anything back, but I essentially hit a new plateau in that mid-170 range. Thanksgiving was modest. I didn’t eat much on the road north. And although it felt like food was coming at us at every direction while at Biz’s house, I still managed to hold my own. I was up a couple pounds, but nothing horrible.

It’s funny how it works sometimes. Biz, too, marveled at her own weight staying in check during this period. Sometimes you can work and work and work at it and never get anywhere. Then sometimes you can simply ignore it and still never get anywhere.

Either way, it never fails to give us something to write about.

We lost Tony on December 2, but I was happy we were all there for my sister. Sarah and Rachel flew back to Texas (separately) on Monday the first, but Laura and I stayed for the memorial service on December 5. We left from the funeral home around seven, but took two days to get back, since we were no longer in a hurry.

I tried to keep working on my manuscript the rest of the month, but let’s face it, December is the worst month possible to try to move forward on a personal creative endeavor. On the upside, though, at work, I did get to introduce Treats Day to a whole new audience at Apple.

The last big news of the year: we had our second 2014 graduation when Sarah finished up her studies one semester early. She graduated from the University of North Texas with a bachelors degree in French. (And with magna cum laude honors, I might add.) We’re so proud of you and we’re very much looking forward to you paying for your own car insurance.

Diet #113b held up pretty well at first. Until the Chex Mix hit. Every year. Every stupid year it’s the Chex Mix and yet I still make eight pounds of it. I keep telling myself it’s been a very long year how Chex Mix only rolls around once a year and, well, you know, I deserve this and all. Not to mention that I hit my year-end goal two months ahead of time.

But I was OFF THE RAILS during the Christmas break, for a while there even gaining an entire pound each and every day. I got to the point where I was eating for the sake of eating. I got to the point where it I was, in all likelihood, embarrassing myself. I ended up gaining about eight pounds overall. And (perhaps ironically, perhaps not) when Day 9000 rolled around on December 20, I had officially missed my target by five pounds. And by December 31, I had missed it by *ahem* eleven pounds.

But, I’m still down nine pounds since March, and I’m more than ready to get back on track for 2015. Luckily I have a history of quickly dropping weight that went on quickly.

Okay, that’s more like me.

So what will 2015 bring? Well, I have many, many goals as usual. I will continue to write, make a serious attempt to get back into the home recording studio, and maybe create some art here and there. But truth be told, if I just got that garage cleaned up, I’d call it a win.

Happy New Year, everybody!

8 Responses to “The Year in Review”

Jenn@slim-shoppin said
December 31, 2014 at 11:57 pm

Happy New Year Charlie! You did a lot more than I did in 2014!

I’m thinking of doing plant based more foods too! ;0)

Love you!

    Charlie said
    January 1, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Maybe you should have kept your coupon. 🙂

Christine said
January 1, 2015 at 9:21 am

Happy New Year! Thanks for the chuckles! 🙂

    Charlie said
    January 3, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    You’re welcome! 🙂

Biz said
January 1, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Thanks again for dropping everything and being here with me – it meant so much to me!

Happy New Year Charlie!

    Charlie said
    January 3, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    Happy New Year to you too!

Anna said
January 1, 2015 at 3:05 pm

happy New Year Charlie 😀

You’re a great writer 😉

    Charlie said
    January 3, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    I try. 🙂