John Holton (john_holton) wrote,
John Holton

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A look back, a look ahead

Time for a review of 2003 and a look forward to 2004...

In all, it wasn't a bad year. There were some things that really sucked, but on the whole it was a good year. I'll list them out (which will give me an opportunity to try out list tags):

  1. The biggest news, of course, was Mary's year in massage therapy school. She graduated in December, and only has a few more clinic hours to complete before she's officially finished. I'm proud of her, as I'm sure I've said over and over, but it bears repeating.

  2. We celebrated our 25th anniversary this past January. That was definitely a good thing.

  3. I attended the National Guitar Workshop at Middle Tennessee State University this past July. It was really the first time that I'd played guitar seriously in eight years. I enjoyed myself immensely, and hope to do it again, if not this year, then definitely next year.

  4. The one turd in the punchbowl for me was my job situation. Things are deteriorating at my company, and have been for some time. I've stuck it out for any number of not-so-bright reasons (hoping to get my 20 years, waiting to see if they'll lay me off, somehow believing that things will turn around and get better all of a sudden, not wanting to give up a good salary, health benefits, and 4 weeks of vacation), but I've finally opened my eyes to the fact that things are not going to get better. It's been kind of like watching someone die of cancer. Three of my co-workers were laid off in November, right around the time that the relationship between myself and certain members of management began to deteriorate. As much as I'd like to hope that things will improve, I don't have much hope. Plus, I've changed: I'll be 50 in a couple of years, and by that time I'd like to be done with traveling for business, and I've put off a lot of things that I want to do because my on-again, off-again travel schedule has made it impossible for me to make any sort of outside commitments. In short, I've been imprisoned by this job, and I want out.

  5. Kitty-wise, this year saw seven newcomers and one unfortunate departure.

    • In February, we adopted Amy, who's part Siamese, and Jasmine, a solid black shorthair. Amy is beautiful, of course, with big blue eyes and mostly light colored fur with a dark face and tail. Her face has a lot of tabby striping. The Siamese mixes are just wonderful. Jasmine is, well, special. We have more laughs at Jasmine's expense than anyone's. She has a sweet disposition and is fun to watch. The vet calls her an angel. I tend to agree.

    • In April, we adopted Connie, known to the CFA as Stanfield's Coconut Curl, our first Devon Rex. Unfortunately, Connie's health was not all that good, and she died of hepatic lipidosis in October. We notified the breeder, who immediately put us on the waiting list for a new kitten. Cafe Devon's Magical Milton (named by us after the economist Milton Friedman) arrived about a month ago, and he's a pain in the neck. Constantly wants attention, constantly wants to be held, fed, etc. This morning, he climbed up my back while I was trying to cook. He's a cool kitty, lemme tell ya.

    • We found Cece, a little gray tabby, outside of the Comfort Inn in Mt. Vernon, IL, as we were on our annual trip to Chicago to make sure that the building Mary owns there was OK. Needless to say, Mary insisted that we stop at the hotel on the way back to see if we could catch her. She had been there with her mother (we think) on the way north; on the way south, we only found the kitten. We have no idea what happened to Mom. Cece, by the way, is named after Antonia's cat on Mad TV. She's not as outgoing as some of the others, but we're working on her.

    • On the other hand, Bucky, another little gray tabby, had had more than his share of attention. We adopted him the day that Connie died. He was there in a cage in the waiting room with a sign on him that said, "I need a home", and, well, I had this empty carrier to take home, and...well, you get the idea. He is a very affectionate cat...he was found under the stairs at a sorority house at Kennesaw State University, and got lots of attention. He's adopted me as his mother, I think...he keeps trying to nurse off of this skin tag I have under my arm. Bucky's named after the cat in the cartoon strip Get Fuzzy, who is, in turn, named after the Negro League star Buck Weaver.

    • Our latest addition came to us yesterday: a polydactyl who we've named Thumbs, after the cat in Elaine Viets' Dead-End Job mysteries. He has six toes on both of his front paws, and an enormous head. (I seriously considered naming him Heed, in honor of the movie So, I Married An Axe Murderer. He's only been here a couple of days, and in fact just finished his first 24 hours at the house. He spent yesterday at the vet, being neutered. I've never smelled the spray of an un-neutered tomcat before yesterday. It's slightly stronger than skunk juice.

    So, we end the year with almost 50 percent more cats than we had last year at this time. That would be 19. Yes, we're a little crazy.

  6. Oh, yeah...I also started this LiveJournal. Thanks to all and various who encouraged me to do it.

I feel honor-bound to include some "resolutions", although in my case I'm going to call them "goals". These are things I want to achieve in the next twelve months, and some random thoughts along the way.

  1. Find a new job. This is the top priority. I don't want to be around for my 20th anniversary with my company on July 23. Being fired or laid off before then is a possibility, but what I'd really like to do is find a new job and leave before any of that. I want to be the one in control here.

    I've also decided to move in the direction of being self-employed by the time I'm 50, and to try to do as many different things between now and then as I can to get a wide variety of experience. I don't want to have to rely on an employer to provide me with a salary or benefits; I've learned that relationship is at best tenuous and can be severed at any time. I've come to believe that jobs are really a form of slavery, and the world would be a better place if everyone worked and no one had a job.

    Also, I'm not going to let the fact that I already have a job stop me from examining other possibilities. I've made the terrible mistake of being too loyal over the years, which has resulted in my career (and my life) stagnating. I've been too quick to tell the headhunters to go to hell over the years. I may find a new job, but I'm not going to let that stop me from keeping my feelers out and my resume up to date. And, believe me, I plan on making full use of both the Internet and my personal network of friends and former associates to turn up good opportunities.

  2. Make a real commitment to my writing. What I'd really like to do for a living is write. I've started any number of small and large projects over the years and haven't finished any of them. I've been too content to sit in front of the computer and play solitaire in the hopes that inspiration will come along and smack me upside the head. My chief goal here is to get into the habit of writing every day. I've made any number of false starts over the last couple of years, but I'm determined to do it this year. I plan to complete at least one of my many UFO's (unfinished objects) this year.

    Perhaps it has something to do with my job problems, but I've gotten to the stage where I can't sit at the computer for hours at a time like I used to. I don't want to be locked up in my office with Toby banging at the door to get in, staring at this infernal machine. This is the most writing I've done in close to a month, and I still find myself wanting to get up and walk away from it. I may have to go back to paper-and-pen for a while, just to get me moving. If that's what it takes, then that's what it takes.

  3. Get out and live life again. As I've said, there are so many opportunities that I've passed on over the years because I haven't known what kind of a travel schedule I'm facing. I won't be able to use that as an excuse if I'm able to find something local. That, in fact, is why I'm specifically looking for local opportunities. I need to get out and be with people. It's what I've missed the most now that I'm not teaching. I need the human contact. As wonderful as it is to be able to talk to you over the Internet, it's just not the same.

  4. Get my health in order. I have allowed myself to become terribly overweight and, without the damn pills, my blood pressure is high enough for two people. I know myself well enough to know that when I'm not happy, I overeat and don't want to do anything but sit. I know that it'll take far more than improving my work situation to get me back in shape, but I'm ready to make that commitment again.

Well, that's that. I want you to know that I appreciate every one of you, and pray that each of you has a wonderful New Year.

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