12/31/2014: Where I’m at

I’ve already done a year-in-review post, so I’m going to skip re-hashing 2014 again. Instead, I’ll just attempt to summarize where things stand right now.

I spent the first part of this last day of the year 2014 at the nearest VW dealership, getting my car serviced. The engine had been idling a bit rough for a couple of weeks, and then one of the indicator lights in the dash came on a couple of times, so I figured I had better get it looked at while it was still a minor problem. It was a relatively minor problem, but I still had to get a new ignition coil and spark plug wires, setting me back almost a thousand bucks. Ouch. Fortunately, the long-ish wait (almost three hours) gave me a chance to read one of the many books that have been sitting in my to-read pile for a while, Ksenia Anske’s Rosehead.

Anyway, where am I now compared to one year ago?

In many ways, things have not changed much. Between the sleep apnea and the anxiety (with the occasional panic attack), I have had to spend more time (and money) than expected on self-care in order to try to get back to where I was before the anxiety returned. Because I continued to put off any job-search activity, and limited the time I spent on trying to promote my first two books, I remain effectively unemployed, with almost no money coming in. I still have a little bit in savings, but that’s not going to last much longer—so I will need to find some source of income very soon.

I am mostly sleeping better, but I have had to make adjustments to my routine. The CPAP device I use does help me sleep better—but it also tends to wake me up after about four or five hours, especially when the air pressure approaches the top end of its programmed range (causing the mask to start to separate from my face). As a result, whether or not I sleep in my bed, I end up finishing the night’s sleep on my sofa.

I still struggle with isolation and loneliness. I do not have much of a social life—and many of the events of this past year have not helped any. I have taken small steps here and there to get myself out and about more; I am hoping I can continue to make progress in the new year.

On the brighter side…

I published two books in 2014, and reissued most of the Tinty Music catalog in digital download form. I have not sold very many copies of anything yet, but that is one of the things I will be working on in 2015.

In connection with my books, I did two poetry readings. One was for a small group of about four people; the other was for a larger group of about thirty. I am hoping to start going to some open-mic nights in the area, especially as I feel better.

I had graphics included in the February 2014 issue of Courageous Creativity, and in a recently published comic book, The Fantastical Misadventures of Tony James.

I sat down long enough to figure out how to set up a WordPress site, and put together my first web site since 1998. Then I figured out how to connect it to this blog, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about maintaining two separate blogs, or about how to migrate this blog over to my web site. I don’t like working on web sites, so this is a pretty big achievement for me.

I am continuing to write on a regular basis—almost every day, in fact. I have enough poems for a third collection, plus I have completed a rough draft of a collection of the first 365 of my letters to the days of the week (which a few of my friends are reading in order to give me feedback on what I have so far). I haven’t yet returned to the collection of vignettes I started working on in late 2013, but that is another possible project for the coming year.

Despite the setbacks, I have made progress in my struggle to overcome anxiety. Talk therapy and regular craniosacral work have helped, as has going back on the antidepressant I stopped taking back in 2011. I have continued to adjust my workout regimen to avoid overworking those muscles that tend to trigger anxiety when they get too tight. I keep my caffeine consumption to a minimum, and avoid junk food and sugary treats (the occasional Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup notwithstanding). And I make sure to get plenty of sleep. I am getting to a place where I have more good days than not-so-good days, which I expect will make it easier for me to do many of the things I have avoided over the last fifteen months or so. I also managed to get myself to cry for the first time in twenty-nine years. (It felt a bit anticlimactic—but it was necessary.)

My Flickr photostream finished the year at 460,123 views. What makes this so amazing to me is that I passed 150,000 views in September 2013—seven years after I started posting photos on Flickr. One of my photos, a Polaroid of some shopping carts, has been viewed more than 7,200 times since I posted it in late October.

Finally, this blog seems to be steadily growing. Over the last few months, I seem to have gained two or three new followers a week. As of this writing, the number of folks following my blog is up to 372. I don’t know how many people were following it a year ago—for the longest time, I assumed that almost nobody knew the blog existed—but I am guessing the number is about double what it was last year.

Thanks for reading this far. And now, in the words of the late, great Casey Kasem, on with the countdown…

(31 December 2014)