All years have ups and downs, highlights and lowlights and everything in between. Every year has it’s own trends and themes, which are sometimes very pronounced. This is my synopsis of 2015 and some of the themes that stole the focus.
It is impossible to talk about 2015 without touching on comedy, and touching on may be too tame of a term. I put a big focus on performing and trying to hone my craft and feel like I made some great improvements. When setting goals last winter I thought that 100 times on stage would be way out of my league, but somehow I managed to get on stage 121 times, in a variety of places all over the US. I expanded from only doing standup to performing improv and trying storytelling, and found that I actually enjoy those performance forms more. I took to storytelling and really enjoy it since it emphasizes my natural storytelling abilities, I am not the best improviser and have a lot to learn but it is so much fun that it is the often the high point of my week. Participating in the Vermont’s Funniest Comedian contest was a crushing defeat since I didn’t even make it out of the preliminaries but how upset I felt emphasized how much I actually care about performing standup and how much I care about and respect the many other talented comedians in the scene. With Vermont Comedy Club opening I now have a home base bar where I can hang out and help build a community. I also got to start my own show, working with the fine folks at Vermont Craft Mead has been a blast and I have had so much fun running shows with them. All in all I stepped into some uncomfortable positions and was able to grow from the experience, hopefully the trend will continue on into 2016 and I will continue to improve in all aspects of my craft.
As usual travel was a big trend for me. I was able to make a number of short trips around New York and New England, a fun road trip to Virginia and Tennessee, and 2 flights to Tampa, a few days on Nantucket, plus a conference in Albuquerque. I feel that balancing these short trips with bigger adventures allows me to get out and keep myself from getting stir crazy. The amount of time and money that I spend on my travel schedule is pretty insane, but it is part of living a rich life and keeping my sanity so it is worth it. I have been able to explore a bit and spend time with friends in all sorts of locations and explore some new places as well as others that I had visited before.
I have always been a big reader, but over the past few years I have slacked off a bit, mostly due to Netflix. This year I finally took some time to clear through my bookshelves and get some reading out of the way. I suppose it was mostly because I didn’t want to move with them, but in the end it was fun. I instituted a new rule that if I hear recommendations from 3 separate people I buy that book, worst case scenario I waste a few bucks and it gives me insight to how other people think. I also started the process of giving up if I am not enthused by the book after 50 pages. This need to quit was pivotal since I can walk away from something that doesn’t interest me rather than slogging through the remainder like I always did. I also continued the policy of giving away or donating a book once I am finished with it, this prevents a huge back log and allows others to enjoy good books while also generating some revenue for local libraries.
Along the same vein I started the year strong with writing, but over time I petered out a bit. I suppose that I had a lot to say, and still do, but have had issues falling into a routine of getting it down on the page. I had a few big hit essays that got a lot of exposure, but so many that slogged through in obscurity that it got depressing. I really need to continue writing and will do my best to force myself to stay on a schedule during 2016. I am trying to set up a cozy place to write in my new apartment and will hopefully force myself to get back to it.
One of my favorite aspects of 2015 was my commitment to experiencing a variety of sensory inputs. I have been trying to experience more than the basics, i.e. not just drinking coffee, but trying to relish the whole experience. I wake up each morning and hand grind beans that I buy from a boutique coffee roaster and brew up a cup in my Aeropress and savor the moment. I have gotten big into whiskey tasting and beer pairing which help to elevate meals and experiences. I guess the main focus is taking the time to enjoy all aspects of cooking and tasting foods. In a way I have spent a lot of time falling in love with the process and being present in the moment, but whatever you want to call it I really enjoy the experience rather than just the end result.
I had a few very important failures that stand out from the year. I spent a lot of time injured and without health insurance so I wasn’t as active as I had hoped to be. Professionally the year was a dumpster fire, but I landed in a well paying if unfulfilling job that I can tolerate for at least another year or so. Dating continued to suck, I just can’t seem to find that young beautiful heiress that I have been looking for, I know that she has to be out there. I tried playing the guitar (again) and couldn’t make it more than a few weeks of consistent practice (again), maybe next year. I don’t know if it is truly a failure but I feel that I spent a lot of this year treading water and waiting for the next thing, waiting for the LTC pharmacy to close so I could move on, waiting to find a new apartment to move out of Middlebury, waiting for my comedy career to pick up so that I can get booked more, and all around waiting to grow up a bit. Every year I watch more of my friends get engaged or married, buy houses, have kids, and move on with their lives. While I realize that I don’t want those things right now, and that I am happier living a life outside the lines rather than settling down I still feel that persistent need to make progress toward those things. I am not a patient person and as the song says, “The waiting is the hardest part,”
As with any year there are a number of experiences that set it apart. I shot guns, went fishing in the ocean, watched several friends get married, dug clams in the rain, got a high desert sunburn, performed, drank, sobered up for a month, did yoga, took photos, cooked, drove, swam, punched, took selfies, laughed, and had a pretty good time. Hopefully 2016 will bring more adventures and opportunities for growth.