I'm apologizing now for how long this is. If you don't read it all it won't bother me.
I'm setting here going through my status messages one month at a time. I found a message I posted at four am on January 1st. It was right after the NYE party I had played if I remember correctly.
The post read, "Dear year. Be good to me or else..."
The very first thing I noticed is that the last person to like that status on New Year's Day was Sancrist Martin. Sancrist committed suicide this year. It struck me how much of a year of loss this has been. It's hard to explain the deep feelings of loss I feel when I see pictures of my friend Cassie who also committed suicide this year, when I remember the tornadoes that destroyed Joplin, when I think of Parker, Andrea's son, whom I was close to whom I can no longer hang out with, and when I think of Andrea my now Ex girl friend whom I had spent almost this entire year with. My life has shifted so much over the last year and my life isn't the only one that has seen massive upheaval.
I look around my house and I see the evidence of the efforts I put into shifting my life towards building a family left in the holes in the walls my renters put there when I rented out my house to move in with my Ex.
I remember setting at my desk at Motorola listening to the tornado sirens and seriously contemplating the fact that the building might come down on top of me, hoping if it did I died quickly rather than setting in a hospital for months.
I remember watching my career at Motorola disentegrate before my eyes, and realizing there was nothing I could do about it no matter how I changed my habits or my attitude. My fate was pretty well set. Seven years of my life there gone because I was bitter and someone decided they didn't like me.
I see the portrait of Cassie and I'm reminded of seeing her just before her death at A-Kon and I remember that I just didn't have time to stop and talk to her because I was running my ass off. How I regret that so deeply now.
I think about the dread of having to explain to my sons that I had moved from Mrs Andrea's house because we were no longer together, and they would not see her again. I think about the anger I've struggled with while trying to financially recover from two moves in four months wrapped around an incredibly difficult event I built.
I will resist the urge to be extremely cynical, and say that the year has had its highs and lows. Right now all I can really think of are the lows. It has been a very very painful year for me. It reminds me a lot of 2009 to be blunt. Anyone who walked through that hell with me knows exactly what I mean.
January and February were some of the heaviest snow I've ever seen. I really enjoyed those months because with snow comes much snuggling, hot tea, and time to reflect. I, of course, ended up incredibly sick. I remember not being able to deal with solid food. Andrea was there to take care of me, and we worked our way through it while her and her son enjoyed the tons of snow. I missed a lot of work, but the down time was much enjoyed and needed.
Anime St Louis was in there somewhere. I met so many cool people at that event. It also reminded me of how incredibly good I am in a crisis. I won't get into that, but man I love crisis management, and I'm pretty damned good at it.
April came around and Louisianime hit. I took a posse with me on the road. BEST ROAD TRIP EVAH! I met John Weiger who was incredibly awesome as company on the raod.
Also, I got to watch Master Chief crowd surf. Most amazing small convention dance EVER.
Then the tornadoes hit in May. I remember people losing family, Joplin being destroyed, and the general two weeks worth of panic and scrambling to get people emergency supplies. I remember posting as fast as I could to get the word out to people on my list when things were hitting. It was like a war. The sirens would go off. Warnings were posted on line, and you had minutes to get to cover. Thankfully my area wasn't hard hit.
I wish I could say the same For Denning and Joplin.
2011 had run through the first quarter like a freight train and I was getting panicky about getting my convention running on top of all of this. I can also say, after reading through my status messages, that I had apparently realized there was a problem in my relationship that neither Andrea nor I were talking about. Funny how details like that slip your mind when life hits you in the face at full tilt.
I am still not sure why she never brought it up. I remember asking over and over if there was anything wrong, and always getting the same response: No. Why would there be? This signified a serious lack of communication which would eventually be the demise of our relationship. By the time we were really talking it was already over.
I also realized that I Had not been paying attention to her as I had the year before. My focus was entirely on my convention, my DJing, and my physical health as it was slowly deteriorating from the stress levels I was under while I was carrying GlitchCon almost entirely by myself.
"By yourself," you say? Yes. My core staff had fallen apart twice. I was panicking. I had the most expensive and risky event I've ever attempted falling apart before my eyes after I had already signed the contract. I already knew that if I tried to cancel and push the date back that it'd be the end of the convention. No one would ever take it seriously again.
I cannot stress nor explain enough how much stress this convention put me under. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life. Failure was not an option but everything around it kept falling in and falling apart. It was like walking through a nightmare for six months where people whom I had trusted slowly pulled the foundation for the convention out from under my feet nearly taking my personal finances with it and my family as well. You see, I SELF FUNDED that event. That means if it goes under I GO UNDER which means my kids too.
I hung on for dear life and prayed people would forgive me for dropping every relationship, every commitment, and disregarding all of my previous social activities to save my event, my family finances, and my reputation from certain destruction.
In the end this would cost me far more than money. It, along with several other things, cost me Andrea and my friendship with her son. It cost me friends too, but as I have seen over and over again, Those who stick around are those who Love you.
It not only speaks volumes about my friends who stood by me, but it says a lot of those who make promises like "I Love you," "I care," "I'm here for you," "I've got your back," etc etc and then they vanish when things get rough.
Ally once said of me, "you demand much of your friends." Why? Because I expect the words to come with some serious backing. I don't keep low quality friends. Those whom I call Friend are people you can count on, people who are dedicated, and people who are honest even when it hurts. Of course, that explains why Ally and I are still friends as well as Amanda, Kevin, and a long list of others whom I've been through hell with.
June and July were a blur of A-Kon and Tokyo in Tulsa related business. Both events went phenomenally well. My reputation as an organizer with vision and skill continued to grow.
Between the two largest shows of the year I received a phone call from Ally. I had never heard her so distraught. At first I thought something was wrong with one of the boys, but then I found out that she had received word over facebook that our friend Cassandra Hodges had committed suicide.
We scrambled to verify it. We called people. We messaged people, and in the end we found out that Cassie was gone. We were both devastated.
Later it was discovered that Cassie's family had not the means to put on a funeral, and that if the Anime community did not step up she likely wouldn't have one. We dropped everything and scrambled to raise money, organize, and put together web resources.
I took the boys while Ally went to Dallas to help make the arrangements. I campaigned on line and over the phone to get cash for her funeral. Andrea was watching the boys while I worked, and dealing with me falling apart. All of this was yet more stress on our relationship which I did not consider as I was too distraught over the loss of my Cassie whom I had just seen at two conventions.
I broke down and cried at work, sobbing until my boss sent me home. I was in pieces. I stuffed it back. Focused on getting TnT ready and rolling, and focused on GlitchCon business. Somewhere in there I also managed to salvage Andrea's brother's wakeboarding website. I rebuilt it in three nights. Not bad if I do say so myself. It wasn't pretty but it was actually functional which was more than I could say for it when I found it.
TnT hit and I was in awe of the show we'd built there. There were issues, most definitely, but the Saturday night dance was one of the largest most well liked dances I have ever constructed. I have never seen an event of mine go that big with that much positive feed back before. Yes. I'm patting myself on the back. Mark your calendar.
August was a flurry of scrambling to find every resources I could for GlitchCon. In August I asked Ally for the boys. She agreed, and shortly thereafter Andrea and I broke up. Funny how that works out. I never thought it'd end that way between us. Life is so full of surprises.
I barely remember September except for glitchcon weekend which was both painful and amazing. My birthday was more of a passing thought than an actual party. I was so wiped out, and heart broken.
However, I could not move out. I had rented my house out to put myself in a position after GC to help pay bills. Thankfully, she didn't just dump me on the streets right before the convention. We made the best of a very bad situation. It was at least civil and often hospitable.
October I got my house back from the renters. I found the house had been heavily damaged. Doors were kicked in with the frames broken. Walls were bashed in clear through to the other side, and the back porch was covered in dog piss and refuse. They hadn't paid rent in a month and a half.
I became extremely angry over the entire situation.
I won't go into great detail on everything that has happened since then, but suffice to say I am extremely bitter over my last relationship. It has caused me not only to lose the family I had put together in the course of our year together but I've lost respect for some of my friends who can not grasp the concept of dealing with a dangerous unsteady and uncertain living situation when you have kids moving in.
There is no greater fear I live with than losing my home, my job, and my ability to support my sons. I would sooner throw myself in front of a train than put that in danger. Yet, some how through dating I had done just that.
I have many regrets in life. I have none so strong as dating while I've been a Father. From Margaret to Andrea, it was never a good idea. Ever.
So what have I learned this year?
I think a post I put up around Thanksgiving really sums it up:
"This last year I've learned much about what my body can withstand and where my limits are. I've learned much about the hidden pitfalls that sometimes doom a relationship before it even starts, and that no matter how wonderful someone may seem, no matter how perfect you may think they are they have broken someone's heart somewhere and they may, in fact, break yours.
I've learned that I do actually have an emotional limit, and when I reach that limit I am incapable of being emotionally present or supportive to anyone. I've learned that if I want to be a good friend I will not test those boundaries again. I know where they are and it's best to walk within them.
I've learned there is a price to Loving someone. Usually that price is paid, in the end, in tears. Laughter. Always. Come. Later. Though. Even when at this moment you feel like you may have been thrown away like used tissue paper. You will laugh again. You will find your smile and your value. Just because an old Lover doesn't see your value, just because they missed out on what you had to offer doesn't mean the rest of the world "doesn't get it."
And some days maybe, just maybe, it's ok that you're alone because there really is, at that moment, no better place your soul could find itself. Remember that beyond the trail of people who left there are still people who didn't. If you look hard enough you'll realize that the line of friends who have not abandoned you is far more important than the lovers who did."
There's really only one more thing I want to add to that list, and it's this:
If I can give you any one piece of advice it would be to look deep and understand who you are. Understand why you feel the way you do, and understand what you want from life and those whom you care about. Figure out what's valuable to you, and what hurts you.
Then draw your boundaries based on a strong sense of what is TRULY best for you. Let no one move them, especially not a lover. Any one who loves you will understand. The rest simply don't matter and they don't mean it when they say they love you, often times because they don't understand love itself.
So I will end this year's post with ten things I LOVE that happened this year. There's much to be Thankful for even if I lost a lot this year. There was much I gained.
1) I have reconnected with many an old friend this year. I will be talking to the first girl I EVER dated this friday, and meeting her husband. We picked back up like two old friends who never parted ways. Also, I haven't found a reason to push Jeff Bradbury out an airlock yet, Kevin Regier and I still chatter every now and again, and Bruce Imhoff has shown back up. Dear LORD, so many people from my childhood. :) Life is good.
2) I have finally recognized that I have serious anxiety issues, and I have taken a LOT of steps to deal with it. Most of which involve kicking people who piss me off out of my life, setting serious boundaries, removing drama, and in general doing stuff that actually makes me all around a far happier person. This list also includes more time to relax.
3) I have recognized that I have some serious internal abandonment issues and some other personal problems I won't get into detail on here about, and I've signed up for counseling to deal with them. I've also decided to return to my faith. I'm going back to church. It's something I feel the need to return to. Don't expect me to carry a bible or stand on the streets yelling at people or whatever. I'm not that kind of Christian. I'd be more likely to talk religion over a crown and coke than over a swinging bible. If that bothers you, too bad.
4) My Dad and I are becoming close. I can actually talk to him about things that really bother me, and things that I'm struggling with. I can't begin to explain how HUGE of a deal this is. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
5) I have decided to sell my house and buy another one with more room, and it's looking like that may VERY WELL work out for me. Wow.
6) I set myself on the path to having my sons move in with me. Their mother has agreed and we're working TOGETHER to make it all work out.
7) My DJing has come a VERY long way this year. My organizational skills have too.
8) I have a far better idea of who my friends are and who I am to them than I did last year.
9) I am getting to know myself. Alone time. It's good. Very good for the soul.
10) You read this all the way through, and to me that means you care about what's going on with me. Thank you. Seriously.
So that's it. I'll probably post something New Year's Eve from the party I'll be at. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.