Outside

1 Jan

Outside

I’m starting writing this at the very end of 2013 (local time) and it won’t be finished until 2014.

I don’t really do resolutions or Best Of lists here or anything more reflective than what’s in my memory. I don’t go back and read old blog entries or skim what I wrote over the year on this site the way I do with year-end stuff I do for work. Maybe I should. Maybe there are weird personal patterns to be discovered, things that would be painfully obvious about repeated habits if I only put in the study time.

But right now I’m less reflective about what happened in 2013 (which was a mixed bag for sure, but I got out pretty well unscathed compared to lots of my friends and co-workers) than just trying to figure out how to start ’14.

I spent a lot of 2012 in a weird, spiraling kind of panic. Not a mid-life crisis, I don’t think, but definitely hearing the ticking clock of aging more loudly and realizing I wasn’t happy with what I was doing with my writing. I got really lucky; the only way I’ve found to dig out of a hole like that is to get busy with something new you’re excited about. It turned out I had three things start to form at the end of last year. The relaunch of Space Monkeys! (both the website and the comic, rebuilt and relaunched on Jan. 1, 2013). An idea for a novel that I thought I could actually finish this time (it was completed in June). And a podcast that Tolly Mosely and I wanted to do together.

In terms of concrete goals accomplished, 2013 worked out really well. Once the novel was complete, I was able to let myself start doing some regular freelance again, something I really missed while I was head-down the first half of the year.

But as the year closed and I had some vacation time to rest up and slow down, I came to realize something. I spent a lot of this last year closing myself off.

I’m a bit isolated living outside of Austin anyway, but this year, I really retreated into myself more than I probably ever have. I worked from home more and I didn’t socialize as much. I missed lots of happy hours, stopped asking friends out to lunch and did a lot more communicating over social media and email than in person.

Some of it was intentional. I had a goal of writing every night from January to June no matter what. That didn’t always happen, but when I missed a night, I would try to make up for it the night after. That didn’t leave a lot of time for making plans to go out. I mean, I went out. I went to concerts and South by Southwest and some comedy shows. But each time I did that, at least from January to June, I associated it with having to pay a time-and-effort price later.

More often than not, I would sometimes see something on the events calendar I would have normally jumped at the chance to do and just say, “Nope.” Can’t do it. Not enough time or energy. Going out felt like a hassle much of the time. So I stayed home more.

I have some friends this year (on social media, of course) who’ve chosen a word for 2014. For some it’s a goal, for others it’s a theme like “Connect” or “Happy.”

Mine is just “Outside.” Not camping, God forbid, I mean just getting outside of my own head and having more real-life experiences and conversations.

It’s so much easier to never leave your desk, to just post stuff to Twitter like thousands of tiny notes in bottles that may or may not reach the right eyes. I’m becoming old enough that it’s becoming a real challenge to make new friends and maintain ties with old ones.

I just know that retreating further into my own headspace isn’t what I want to do with this new year.

I think the podcast may help. It’s something I think will be great fun and something I hope people will want to listen to because we plan to fill the guest chair with really smart, insightful people Tolly and I want to engage with in conversation. But I think one thing that’s been driving the effort on my end is having a place to talk about stuff, out loud, every week with other people in the same room.

That seems like a lot of hoops to jump just to yap my mouth, but maybe that’s just the age we’re living in.

I honestly don’t know what to expect next in 2014. The literary agent has the first few chapters of the novel and I’ll be emailing soon to see what the status is on that. I’m hopeful, but I won’t be devastated if I have to move on and figure out what to do next if the answer’s not what I’d like.

The podcast (fingers crossed) will begin regular production toward the end of January and we’ll be working very hard to get that on its feet.

I hope to keep writing for Previously and to do a little more freelancing elsewhere as well as some shorter-form stuff here. Blogging has become really difficult. I used to knock out three entries a week back in the day and now it takes me multiple days to do one. (Sometimes weeks. They grow if I don’t tend to them, like ragged fingernails.)

Honestly, this is the first year that I’ve looked at the blog (which I used to call a journal) and thought, “Maybe I won’t be doing this by the end of next year.” Maybe the blog will stop at some point. That seems to be the way things are going, right? Less blogging, more… I don’t know… other kinds of saying what’s on your mind.

This is all just about writing stuff and work. I haven’t even talked about the challenges of being a dad, which is wonderful and sometimes demoralizing. I sometimes wonder if I’m a good enough parent, if the kids are picking up bad habits and unhealthy emotions and whether there will ever be enough time to do it right or if we just put too much pressure on ourselves instead of having fun and being present.

I think I could do a lot better, but I also know that trapping myself in my head obsessing doesn’t help anybody. I think taking action outside my head, allowing myself to do stuff and make stuff instead of turning everything inward is the way to go.

So that’s what I’ll be doing. That’s really what I’m working on.

Statesman stuff

Because of my extended vacation, I haven’t had a whole lot written for work lately, but the week I was in the office, I did write a piece that ran on Christmas Eve about last-minute (and post-Christmas) stuff to do related to tech gifts. It’s probably too late to be much use for you, but probably worth keeping bookmarked somewhere for next year.

Twitch

I did a Digital Savant Micro explaining the video game broadcasting service Twitch as well and some blog entries about my friend Korey Coleman’s new post-Spill.com Kickstarter project and top Google searches in Austin for 2013.

The column returns to its weekly perch starting next week with some 2014 predictions from Omarstradamus and with Micro in tow.

Monkey stuff

New Year's

Our Space Monkeys tried to gain science-based super powers, exchanged Christmas gifts and counted down to the New Year.

With some major WordPress help from a friend/professional, we were able to restore some functionality on the site we’d lost. Hundreds of blog posts related to the comics weren’t appearing on the site, so once they were gone from the home page, they were pretty much lost forever to anybody but us. We fixed that and one example of a blog post that I would have hated to lose is one in which I talk about our first year back doing the comic.

The comic has been the very definition of a passion project for me and my brother. We don’t make money on it and the audience is still pretty small, but we really do enjoy it and have found working together on it to be really rewarding.

Previously.tv stuff

Just one thing: I wrote about the last episode of How I Met Your Mother before the show went on winter break, an episode called, “Bass Player Wanted.”

Other stuff

In completely random order:

  • We got some really great medical news about our older daughter. It’s not something I’ve ever written about publicly, but it’s something we’ve been dealing with for a few years that, unless something unanticipated happens, we’ll no longer have to worry about at all. This happened right before Christmas, good news of the sort that made presents seem redundant.
  • Carolina turned four. She had a birthday party earlier in the month, but for her actual birth day, we kept it pretty low key with bowling. It’s very easy to love and become attached to your first-born, but Carolina has developed her own personality and way of doing things that make her absolutely charming to everyone she meets. She’s chatting and funny and so loving, you almost forgive her when she breaks things and creates a constant  little cloud of chaos at home. Almost.
  • I spent a chunk of my vacation playing Super Mario 3D World, which is just fantastic, and went back to the PS4 to give Killzone: Shadow Fall another try. To my surprise, I liked it a lot more the second time around. It’s a very mediocre game that looks great on the new hardware, but sometimes a mediocre game with lots of eye candy is exactly what you’re in the mood to play.
  • Our Alamo Drafthouse movie theater finally opened! We went and saw American Hustle and though my wife wasn’t wowed by the food (mine was good), the movie experience was fantastic. The remodeling they did of that formerly crappy theater is remarkable and having it so close by makes me want to go see movies all the time.
  • I caught up on the entire run so far of Saga. It’s brilliant. Go read it. You can get back issues on Comixology for only $1.99 each or just grab the trade paperbacks that’ll get you up to issue 12. (They’re at issue 17 now.) I’m now reading Doctor Sleep, which is also great.

The rest in photos:

 
Birthday girl

Lilly the pizza eater

Bowling booth

On Christmas

Christmas day