I thought a creative way to retrospect on this past year was to create an A-Z “mega post” of my year, briefly touching on my experiences from Austin, Texas to Yoga, some of my favorite songs, and a handful of my ambitions and personality quirks.
As a disclaimer, I’ve included affiliate links to some of my favorite products. No biggie!
A: Austin, Texas. I visited Austin in February for a business trip to attend the Mother Earth News Fair. We spent a few days in Austin, kicking around to multiple coffee shops (including the Tom’s flagship coffee shop) and unique bars (like the “secret” bar behind the bookshelf in a hostel) in search of the perfect Manhattan. I didn’t get to spend enough time there, but Austin, “I love you so much.”
B: Bees. Over this past year, I have been a vocal advocate for pollinators and honey bees. Their role in the ecosystem as a keystone species is unparalleled and there’s no doubt their existence is in danger. If you are interested in getting involved with beekeeping (it’s really not that hard!) I recommend checking out the good work over at Bee Thinking.
C: Card Games. I did a lot of “research” into card games this year, with a few of my favorites being Morels, One Hit Kill, and of course, Cards Against Humanity. Next year, Mystery Tin Games will be coming out with three games: Happy Hour!, a card version of the game “Hex,” and Robin Miller Presents Dinner’s Ready! Keep an eye out for Happy Hour! in February 2017! And if you haven’t already picked up Dinner’s Ready!, the healthy eating card, you can get pick one up here! (Thank You!)
D: Mr. and Mrs. Graham Douds. This year one of my best friends in the world, Graham Douds, got married to his beautiful fiancé, Kate. As a member of the bridal party, we traveled to Cabo San Lucas for a bachelors weekend and later, in September, they were married at a beautiful ceremony in the Napa Valley. I couldn’t be happier to be part of their special day and seeing the way they love each other is nothing short of inspiring. Cheers!
E: EDM. Yeah, yeah, go ahead. I’ll admit it, I listened to more than a little EDM this year, and I can’t say that I’m ashamed. I truly believe that there is nothing more human than dancing. There’s no “right way” to dance, just move your body however you want. Whether it was dancing at the splash stage at What The Festival, in the front row at the Crystal Ballroom, or in my car on traffic, I can’t help but dance and smile. I’m not saying it’s the greatest music ever created, all I’m saying is that you should try it sometime.
F: Freelance. This year was my first official foray into freelancing on the website UpWork. Forbes believes that 50% of Americans will be freelancing in 2020, many outside of their day jobs. If you’ve ever been paid to do a job for somebody, i.e. your day job, that skill can now be made available to anyone on the planet. And you’d be amazed what people are looking to outsource. This year I mostly focused on writing jobs, including blogs and screenplay adaptations. In 2017, freelancing will take on a much bigger role in my life, including hiring some of my own freelance help.
G: Groceries (Fred Meyer). OMG. Have you ever been to a Fred Meyer? Holy shit. I mean, these places are amazing. It’s like a Safeway, Best Buy, and Target had a love child and while arguing over paternity they decided to name it the innocuous “Fred Meyer.” That’s Oh yeah, did I mention they offer gasoline, too? Whatever you’re looking for, chances are they’ve got it. It’s a one stop shop. Thanks for the hookup, Fred G. Meyer!
H- Hawthorne. For a majority of 2015 I lived and worked in the Hawthorne neighborhood in Southeast Portland. Despite the fact we were paying INSANE RENT for our apartment that was the size of an open matchbox, Hawthorne is an interesting neighborhood. Over the course of one block you can find a tattoo parlor, vintage clothing shop, get your haircut in an airstream trailer, fill your growler with kombucha, pick up some vinyl records, and get your bicycle tuned while getting an artisan coffee and a donut. While there’s no doubt the Hawthorne is the result of gentrification (as I was reminded often by complete strangers when they saw my California license plates), it’s still a fun neighborhood to check out when you’re in Portland.
I – Intimacy. For the first time in the last 7 years, I’m not dating anyone. It’s not easy to be broken up with and asked to move out. It’s even harder to continue living together while the divide becomes more and more apparent. Love isn’t for the weak or the scared. Love is for the daring, the risky, and those who desire to give more of themselves than they’d ever expect to receive from another human being. Loving with your entire heart is dangerous, but ultimately an important growing experience, just like the pain of the inevitable heartbreak when you lose it. I’m not bitter or angry, I just miss my best friend. But I recently saw this meme, and despite the spelling errors (maybe intentional), it made me feel a little bit better.
J: Justice. I can’t say I got the justice I felt that I deserved, but I had more interactions with the police and the judicial system this year than I have (in total) since I left the legal field. I received a couple tickets, almost got my car towed, appeared in traffic court to defend myself (and lost), and recently attended a hearing to appeal my unemployment case. Needless to say, it’s better to stay under the radar than on it. Putting that behind me in 2017.
K: Kiiara – Gold. One of my favorite songs from 2016, Gold is a super-glitchy, sexy jam that sets the mood whenever you turn it on. The song just drips with seduction. If you stand in front of the mirror and turn this song, I promise you’re gonna feel yourself. It tastes like money when I speak.
L: Louis the Child. Another one of my surprise favorites this year, I saw Louis the Child perform twice, once at What The Festival and in early December in Portland. These two kids, literally 19 years old, are dancing their way into their fans hearts. Admittedly, most of the people in the crowd were freshly-legal, scantily-clad girls straight rolling (awkward), but these kids are somebody to keep an eye on. My favorite song is probably their most popular track, It’s Strange.
M: Magnetic North. Since moving to Portland, I’ve reconnected with my high school buddy Walker Cahall (Waltronic), a graphic artist and printer. This year he became the manager of his creative space, Magnetic North. It’s an awesome space with desks, screen printing machines (for paper and fabric), CNC machines, and paints galore. They hold events every month, inviting the community inside to see how the magic happens and pick up some amazing art! If you get the chance to stop in, do it, and tell Walker I sent you.
N: National Felons League. This has been the sixth year of our Fantasy Football League, The National Felons League. I was the commissioner for the first five years (not earning a penny for the first four years), but this past season I handed off the responsibilities. Perhaps it was the best decision I’ve made, because this season I got to the championships, but came up short. 2nd place! Cash money, please!
O: The Obamas. Write the President. Seriously, do it. Whichever President you prefer, the outgoing or incoming, go ahead and write him a letter. It only costs $0.47 of postage to tell the President of United States of America whatever you want. That’s it! Earlier this year, I sent a copy of my healthy cooking card game Dinner’s Ready! to First Lady Michelle Obama, and I received a letter back! Also, as part of my previous job, I sent a letter (and awesome t-shirts) to President Obama to thank him for his Presidential actions to protect pollinators, and he sent us back a great note back! I’ll have these forever! Thanks, Obama!
P: Pacific Northwest. As a Southern California boy living in the Pacific Northwest, it takes a little getting used to the seasonality. The winters aren’t the same crisp clear skies, but rather a constant state of overcast with short spells of daily rain showers. Since I moved here in fall of 2015, we’ve had a couple of snowstorms, too! Snow days! The truth is, as somebody who frequently stays inside to create things, I don’t mind being an indoor cat for a few months during the coldest part of the year. Aside from the weather, the PNW has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Miles of beautiful hikes with waterfalls, pools, and breathtaking views! Come visit!
Q: Quixotic. Lately I’ve come to embrace the fact that I may hold some quixotic views about my role in the world I live in. I am eternally optimistic that we can achieve the idealized world we all aspire for while desperately holding onto shreds of what we actually have. Perhaps my over-idealism stems from an unrealistic confidence that if I continue to work hard, and treat people well, the world will reciprocate in the form of success and happiness. I’m not exactly “tilting at windmills,” but I do find myself occasionally lashing out with aggression towards figures from my past as if attempting to “right the wrong,” an act that is foolishly impractical in the pursuit of progress. Next year, I’m letting it go.
R: Rabbit. No, I’m not talking about these creepy shrunken heads I found at Paxton Gate, I’m talking about my sweet ass white, 2009 VW Rabbit with 2.5 Liters. This car has been my saving grace, from road tripping the 16 hours from Ojai to Portland, carrying Dinner’s Ready! boxes to the Belmont Street fair, or napping in the back evading a domestic-squabble, my Rabbit and I are thick as thieves. For Christmas, I got her some new windshield wipers and a new rearview mirror. In exchange, we made it the 16 hours back to Portland safely. Thanks, babe!
S: Bernie Sanders. I attended my first political rally this year for Bernie Sanders. I have always been into politics, but this was my first rally. My boss had given me the morning off so I could go to the rally, and it was a magical experience. While the major news networks were busy showing an empty stage waiting for Donald Trump, they were missing out on the tens of thousands that came out to see Bernie Sanders at rally after rally. The only reason why the mainstream media even mentioned this particular rally was because of the famous “Birdie Sanders” moment. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
T: Ookay – Thief. Another one of my favorite jams this year, I’ve probably played this song over 100 times, jamming out hard with air-saxophone. With a mixture of dance beats, digitized vocals, and a little jazz influence, this song makes you smile for all the right reasons. If you want to have even more reasons to smile at this song, you really should watch the video. I guess I’m just a selfish ghost.
U: Unemployment. I won’t get into the details of my unemployment again, I’ve done that already, but I will take a moment to address a perhaps unspoken downside of unemployment. When you’re forced to pay attention to every penny you spend in fear you won’t make rent or your credit card payments, you will psychologically (and physically) withdraw from the world around you, in fear that you will be roped into a situation where you have to spend money. You have a social life that is slowly diminished to cheap beer in your buddy’s living room, or even worse, drinking tea alone at home, starving. I’ve made the choice to emotionally leave the unemployment struggle behind me in 2016, so I’ll be back to my jovial and outwardly social former-self.
V: Voodoo Doughnuts. If there is one thing Portland does well, it’s donuts. And you can find a different kind of donut in every neighborhood. Small ones. Sugary ones. All kinds of crazy donuts. The craziest doughnuts are downtown at Voodoo Doughnuts. You’ve heard of it, you’ve seen it, it’s worth the hype, even if purely on a creative, culinary level. Delicious!
W: What The Festival. This was by far one of my favorite music festivals that I’ve been to, and it was also my first experience volunteering at a festival. Despite the torrential downpours on Friday, eventually the sun came out, which made me love and appreciate the experience all that much more. If I had my ‘druthers, I’d love to go again this year. Want to tag along? Pre-sale tickets go on sale next week!
X: Xbox One. My parents gave me an Xbox One last year for Christmas, and it’s definitely one of the best things I had this year. Honestly, I don’t play very many games, but there’s a few I like; Rainbow Six Siege and Fallout 4 were at the top of my list this year, but even more importantly, I’m hooked up with HBOGO and Netflix through the Xbox One wifi. BAM! Never before have I had such a massive amount of content at my fingertips, and I can only imagine it’s going to get bigger (and better) next year. I think it’s probably in my best interest to implement some television watching parameters for myself next year, or else I am going to be an (even more) unproductive slob, but it’s super cool!
Y: Yoga. I was never big into yoga. I was successful at acrobatics when I trained at Circus Center, but I was never a fan of all the mysticism that is commonly associated with yoga. This year, however, my significant other took classes to become a Corepower Yoga instructor, and I was a frequent student for her homework training. I even did some partner Acro Yoga (thanks, Master Lu Yi!). Surprisingly… I kinda like yoga. Near the end of the teacher training sessions, I finally got the hang of the different poses and my body felt really good, almost longing for more physical activity. It was obvious I had not been physically active over the last year, that’s gonna change in 2017.
Z: ZZZZ (a.k.a. Sleep). Sleep is fucking important! I know it might seem like an easy (and likely) entry for “z” but in all honesty, I really try my best to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. This means, most nights, I’m asleep by 10:30 and up at 6 AM… sometimes 6:30 AM. I occasionally pulled late nights writing or socializing, but for the most part, I was in early because this year I learned a good lesson about myself and my work. I’m a morning person. I get my best work done in the stillness of the morning, before the rest of the world is awake. In 2017, I’m stepping that up the early morning work even more.
What about you? What are the A-Zs of your life in the year 2016? What lessons are you carrying forward into 2017? Let me know!
Thank You from MysteryTin.com! We’ll see you in 2017!
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