As usual, it's been an up and down year around here. As usual, the ups have been public and the downs generally private. I'm going to try to talk about both here as I write my annual review.
I won't be able to say hindsight is 2020 until this time next year (and if you know me at all, you know that I will). But I learned some lessons this year, painful ones. There were joys and sorrows, tears, fears, cheers, a few jeers and even some leers. I have made new friends and some older ones seem to have distanced themselves...and so it goes.
My biggest accomplishments of 2019 have been professional. I started this year unemployed, after having been purged in December of last year. I got a new job fairly quickly, but left it before the end of the training period on account of the training having been beyond poor, not to mention moral qualms about working for the client.
I then, in the midst of great personal tumult, snagged a job in the same campaign I had been purged from exactly three months before. I did it by exhibiting one Kenlike trait, creativity (my cover letter was liberally littered with slogans and terms I had learned in my last go-round, and I essentially explained to them that I could prove they had been wrong to let me go) ... and one distinctly un-Kenlike trait, determination. I practiced my typing until I got it to the threshold speed they required, and I did it within a week. Over and over and over.
The job has had its struggles. I was put on a PDP (performance development plan) back in September. Thanks to actual support from my supervisor and quality coach, I have grown and continue to grow. The supervisor in particular likes me because I'm coachable. Well, that cuts both ways: I'm coachable because I get the distinct sense I'm appreciated.
This last month has been the predictable challenge that all retail is in Stressember. But I still look forward to going into work each day because there are so many good people there. I've made friends with people who push me to be a better agent, and I do the same with them, and we all grow together.
Eva continues to have rollercoaster years. On my birthday, February 6th, she went to grab her keys off the coffee table and something popped almost audibly. Her hand swelled up instantly and very painfully. One of this year's storylines has been her trying and trying and ultimately failing to maintain the 90 wpm typing speed she was mandated to have at her job. She is on long term disability and still mulling options, opportunities, and what really, really irks her, hard limitations. She will climb back from this, because it's in her nature, but it is mentally taxing as all hell to fall off one mountain and wake up at the base of a different mountain in a whole different range.
She also turned 50 this year, as you read, and that's something of a relief to her. The "ones with the nines" have always bothered her, because they have felt so much like an ending to her. But with every ending is a new beginning, and what I have noticed about Eva is that she's slowly discarding the parts of her that needlessly complicated her life and becoming her essence -- as expressed in her tattoo which you will see in all its glory in the spring. Eva is partial to all animals, especially simians, but the animal I most think of in association with her is mythical. It's a phoenix.
It has been an honour and a privilege to be next to Eva as she continues to evolve and grow.
Highlights on this year: we both saw our first Raptors game, from box seats, no less. Her fiftieth birthday party, which was the first time in our married life she made something all about her (while still managing to give away most of the food; she also felt so guilty about a day all about her that she insisted on making the day before all about me. This is just who she is.)
And here's where, as the Facebook relationship status would have it, "it's complicated".
I have clamped down on airing out my personal life this year. Finally took the hint, haha, yeah, I hear you. But it's also because there's been a lot of personal life, some of it not at all flattering to a reputation I have falsely earned. I've struggled for months now to articulate what I'm about to write. Staying silent is so much easier. But it also erases someone who does not deserve to be erased, and makes me look a good deal better than I have been.
People tend to think of me as knowing what the hell I'm doing when it comes to interpersonal relationships. I don't always practice what I preach. The biggest thing I am still learning about is how to handle conflict. My default setting, "run away from it as fast as possible" is not always practical and sometimes it's not the right thing to do. I know better than to bottle up my emotions because I don't know how to express them properly. Hell, it was my dad, many, many years ago, who took my "I don't know how to say this right" and responded "so say it wrong, then you have something to edit". (You may not remember saying that, dad, but I do, it's such a profound thing.) But not easy, not when you know even saying it right is going to hurt. Who wants to hurt people? Not me.
I hurt someone, a very good person, this year. I hurt her by not recognizing some fundamental incompatibilities and I hurt her much more by refusing to confront them once I did see them. The nature of the incompatibilities, without abrogating privacy, had to do with our respective, very different, mental constructs about polyamory.
The woman I am talking about here is deeply perceptive. When enough deeply perceptive people tell you "that thing that walks like a duck and squawks like a duck is in fact a duck", telling yourself it's actually a cat gets more and more difficult.
I've always known how it's looked to outsiders--it was the first thing I learned when I disclosed the nature of our relationship in 2014. And saying "things are not how they look" is taken as "he doth protest too much", and I get that. People think that I set out to replace Eva; that when Kathy stepped away from me earlier this year, I set out to replace her.
The first assumption is categorically false. The second is probably true. That's horribly unfair to a new partner. Actors may be understudies on stage, but that's not a role to play in real life. And when Kathy took me back, I basically employed the Gong Show hook and yanked the "understudy" off my mental stage.
I can't take back what I did and said, nor what I chose not to say. I can, and do, resolve to be truer to myself and others going forward; to communicate, even if it means fighting sometimes; and not to overextend myself.
Kathy and I had an up and down time as well, although we did seem to get most of the downs out of there way in the first half of the year. She is coming into her own, and it is a joy, a privilege and an honour to be next to her as she does.
The bad times you know about, because I blogged exhaustively about them in February. Reports of our demise were premature as it turns out.
Highlights for us included road trips, especially the one to Goderich, Bayfield and Kincardine; our third anniversary weekend, and last weekend, which was a lovely mix of Christmassy and boringly domestic.
She, too, comes out of 2019 having learned a lot about who she is and isn't. I'll leave her to talk about that if she chooses to. In any event, I am glad to still be a part of her world.
If you have been with me any length of time, you know I do not bother with New Year's resolutions. Well, that changes this year. After the big one noted above, I present:
1) I will lose weight in 2020.
I am not going to set a goal weight, but rather a goal thickness. I want to fit into size 38 pants again. Eva has said she will take me to Wonderland again if I succeed, and that alone is worth succeeding for. But it also means being able to put my socks on without gasping for breath,
2) I will commit to recurring time away from social media.
This is something I have long known I've needed, but been extremely hesitant to enact. The fear is that I will find out in short order just how few friends I really have. Somewhere inside me there is a very insecure teenager who thinks "out of sight, out of mind". Well, if it be so, so be it. It's not as if being on Facebook 25/8 has stopped people from stepping back. Maybe it's even encouraged it.
3) I will brave my social anxiety and get to GRU on weekends I'm not in Woodstock while my schedule permits; if, after another shift bid, it doesn't, I will still find a way to get there for something on a weeknight.
I go for the sermons, and leave before "coffee hour", which is at least as important to the general ebb and flow of things. The thought of making small talk with strangers, even if strangers are friends I haven't met yet, is off-putting. But at the same time, I should have discovered this community a decade or more ago, and I owe it to myself to get more involved with it.
4) I will be simply, unapologetically, me.
I would prefer to be accepted; I equate non-acceptance with precariousness. But at the same time, I can't force your acceptance of me, nor can I force someone to even put a word in on my behalf. I am prepared to cope with the consequences of rejection. And that, you can trust me, has been a long time in coming.
I am a man who makes more than his share of mistakes. I try never to make the same mistake twice. Accordingly, even if things go sideways again in 2020, I will not rush to fill a gap.
The next blog will look outward at a darkening world. I will see if I can find some points of light in the ongoing process of catabolic collapse.