2016: A Year in Review and Some Resolutions

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In just a few short hours, 2016 will be over for anyone living in the Eastern Standard Time zone. For others, such as you lovely people basically anywhere east of me, 2016 is already over. For some of you, that’s a very good thing indeed, because 2016 has been a pretty terrible year. From political hellfire to celebrity deaths to personal disasters, so many of us have felt stifled by 2016.

It wasn’t all bad, though. Some of you published books or stories, fell in love or got married or had a child, discovered something super cool, read a lot of great books, made new friends, ate great food, got a new and better job, finished college, and on and on and on. I’m right there with you. A whole lot of bad sprinkled with some wonderful things.

Here’s a look at the things that happened to me in 2016:

The Bad

  • I went on the academic job market and didn’t get a full time job (not unlike a lot of academics, actually).
  • I hit peak depression in about April 2016 over a lot of things just not going my way.
  • Speaking of depression:  I’ve had a lot of back and forth “maybe I’m just a pile of worthless crap” feelings throughout the year. Part of that is my fault (failing at stuff) and part of that is just my brain being a jerk. I’m sure some of you know what that’s like.
  • My beautiful Brazilian rainbow boa, Max, passed away after the onset of a mysterious and sudden illness. It sucked, and I spent a good portion of an evening and a day disinfecting cages to make sure nobody else caught it.
  • I struggled to keep my weight under 215 lbs, and I have been bouncing back and forth between 205 and 215 all year (we’ll come back to that in a moment).
  • I’ve been on the financial back foot since August. It’s not been fun, and I’m trying to find ways to replace lost funds.
  • I’m still single! Your mileage may vary on this one.
  • Since everyone is supposed to have one truly awful dating experience, it seems 2016 gave me one. I won’t go into specifics, but let’s just say I almost went on a date with the liberal version of a giant walking cheetoh.
  • I managed to get a little bit of editing work, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. It’s complicated, but a big part of that comes down to what I’m willing to work for given my extensive education and experience.
  • I haven’t written fiction in years, but 2016 was particularly dry. Every attempt to write stalled.
  • I’ve had repeated problems with my water company. They constantly fail to get my checks when mailed, issue me late fees, and then make me go through the hassle of having my apartment complex tell them to stop charging fees even though they know they have an agreement with the complex for this. This happens every few months.
  • My rent went up…again.

The Good (because I want to end on a high note)

  • I got to stay at the University of Florida for another year so I could take another stab at the job market.
  • While I won’t pretend I’m 100% emotionally sound, I will say that around May or June 2016, I decided to hell with just being bummed all the time. So I just changed my attitude. I have B, C, and D options, so why stress myself out over everything, right? It’s not been easy, but I’ve felt better since.
  • I went on the job market again and have a Skype interview in about 12 days. Woot!
  • I completed another year of teaching nonstop!
  • I got back into snakes! I’ve always loved reptiles, but I haven’t kept snakes in a very long time. Since 2015, I’ve developed a real love for the slithering creatures, and I now share my home with 5 of them!
  • My mom got sick, but she recovered just fine.
  • My friends helped me pay to have Max cremated so I could send his ashes to my mother for burial in her garden. It certainly let me grieve more easily. My friends are amazing and I love them.
  • I rode my first ever for-realz roller coaster:  The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Prior to that, the only roller coasters I had ridden were the “kid coasters” and Revenge of the Mummy (my favorite ride ever). I’m working up to riding bigger coasters, but based on my reaction below, that’ll take a while.shaun-on-a-rollercoaster-of-death
  • I got to go back to California this Spring, which was just lovely. I miss Cali so much.
  • I went to the Miami Zoo for the first time. It was pretty cool!
  • I mostly finished my dissertation. That’s good, no?
  • I managed to photograph a number of reptile and amphibian species this year that most people never see. It was cool.
  • I named a few gopher tortoises that live on one of my hiking trails. They’re pretty cool.
  • I reached the point in my post-chemo checkups that my doctor basically said I don’t have to see him anymore unless I want to. I chose to continue with the yearly appointments for one simple reason:  the last time I got cancer, the medical world didn’t catch it until I’d reached Stage 3. I don’t think they could have known my “bronchitis” was actually cancer, but I’d feel better having my cancer doctor look at me every year, since his default response to “well, that’s weird” will be “let’s scan you.”
  • I got to go to the SEC Championship game! The Gators lost, but it was awesome to have that experience (the game, not necessarily the losing).
  • I released 45 individual podcast episodes this year (on The Skiffy and Fanty ShowTotally Pretentious, and Shaun’s Rambles). I also started a brand new podcast to fill my Star Wars geek purse:  Thrawn and On and On (co-hosted with Alex Acks, Kate Sherrod, and Sarah Chorn).
  • My cat is adorable.

I think that covers most of the stuff that happened to me, good or bad. It certainly looks like 2016 wasn’t so personally disastrous for me, which is good.

Some of the things listed above are things I actually have some control over. As such, I’ve decided to set a few goals for myself during 2017. You might say they are…

New Year’s Resolutions!

  1. I’m going to full detox off of “bad food”:  namely, soda, high-sugar food items, and other crap foods that I shouldn’t eat anyway. I don’t expect this to hold for the entire year, but I need to do something so I can feel like all my working out is actually doing something. Food, of course, is holding me back. Tonight will be my last day of eating like garbage!
  2. I’m going to create a new morning workout routine that I will stick to for the entire year (with exceptions for illness and the like). This new workout will be a modification of the “1000 Reps a Day” workout. It’ll start out at  around 500, with certain exercises replaced for things I can actually do. 50 pushups, 50 situps, 50 squats, 50 burpees, etc. This will be in addition to my normal workout routines. My hope is to shave off the fat and replace it with a more healthy body. I don’t expect to look like Captain America; just a better version of me.
  3. Do what I’m already doing, but better.

It’s a short list for a reason:  I want to actually do this!

So that’s it for me. What about you? Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? What were the good and bad things that happened in your life? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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