Reflecting back on the past year, I can report without exaggeration and with great humility that 2009 was a really decent year for me.
Since 2008 was marked by physical pain, emotional stress and many unpleasant life changes, I anticipated a better 2009.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Job-wise, I’m still at the newspaper, cranking out stories. This year brought me renewed animosity with the Powers-That-Be, and a feud with the mayor over investigative article I’ve written about pay-to-play violations. On the plus side, I have the coolest and most magnanimous editor in the world. Even though my blog contains salty language and observations that occasionally offend, well, practically everyone, my editor is a regular reader and supports freedom of speech and a writer’s free expression.
I reconnected with dear friends in northern New Jersey and connected with many more through Facebook. I also turned 40, a milestone that doesn’t bother me in the slightest, although I would like to get married again and start a family. I know, I’m under the gun on that one.
The family is healthy and happy and alive. That’s really all that counts. Like my old man says, “A good day is one above ground.” Speaking of my old man, we shared a great Father’s Day moment at Citizens Bank Park watching the Philadelphia Phillies. Even the Orioles shellacked them, it was still great to go to the ballpark with my dad. When the Phillies lost the World Series, I jabbered about the game with dad over the phone.
This year I had the opportunity to meet two authors and hear them discuss their works. In February, I met Jeff Gordinier, a writer for Details magazine whose book “X Saves the World” should be mandatory reading for people in their 30s and 40s. In November I met A.J. Jacobs, an editor for Esquire magazine whose book "The Guinea Pig Diaries" is extremely funny.
Though in 2008 I experienced severe back pain (thanks to a herniated disc), this year my sciatica barely showed up. I did experience the worst back pain in April when I was bedridden. It felt like I was being stabbed in the back with a dagger tipped with salt – a stinging, uncomfortable pain. It was the kind of pain that makes you cry. Fortunately, I became reacquainted with my old buddy Naproxen and the persistent back pain went away.
This year I also became reacquainted with my cat, Smuttynose (or Nosey for short). My ex was looking after him for a while, and in the spring he moved in. A cat is really a joy to have, especially one that follows you around like a dog.
On the publishing front, Ravaged Earth sold strongly despite not being reviewed anywhere. Reality Blurs also published an adventure, “Quest for the Lost Oasis” and two issues of “Relics & Rumors”, supplements for Ravaged Earth. Early sales were especially heavy and now the book is going into its 3rd printing.
Speaking about RPGs and gaming, I attended Gencon in August, the country’s largest gaming convention. There I met several wonderful people, including Sean Preston and Stacy Young from Reality Blurs, Shane Hensley, Simon Lucas and Matthew Cutter from Pinnacle Entertainment among others too numerous to name here. I will mention one more – “Weird Dave” Olson, a talented writer and Ravaged Earth contributor.
As far as conventions go, I also attended Pulp AdventureCon, a smallish convention dedicated to the pulp magazines and entertainment of yesteryear. I purchased a few choice books and magazines and reconnected with this wonderful literary form.
A few weeks after that convention, I attended Philcon, a science fiction convention outside Philadelphia. I spoke on the pulps and characters in gaming and literature. I also attended several panels and met wonderful people at late night parties. This Philcon was different for me because I learned much about publishing and science fiction fandom.
I also returned to standup comedy after two years, performing in of all places, a strip bar. The gig was for a benefit and included comics much more talented than me, but even after a lackluster performance, it still felt great to try out new material in front of a live audience.
Finally, rounding out the year, I had the opportunity to record lines for an audio drama, HG World. I play Thomas, a traumatized 19-year old who has his way with an older woman. The scene was especially well done thanks to superb writing, editing and acting by cast and crew. I’ve done many things this year, but voice acting was a dream of mine, one I was lucky to have fulfilled.
As I write this, I’m relaxing and listening to classical Genesis (“Supper’s Ready” off the “Foxtrot” album) and contemplating how awesome the year was.
Still, I hope 2010 brings continued luck and prosperity not only for me but for my friends and loved ones. On New Year’s Eve I’ll probably be sequestered indoors polishing off a bottle of wine I received at Christmas, marveling at another trip around the sun on a planet brimming with life and hoping never to cease dreaming.