2017: A year in review.

Happy New Year’s Eve! Or Hogmanay as we celebrate in the Frozen North, a word that causes a fair amount of consternation everywhere else.

As is customary at this time of year, we look back on the past twelve months and reflect. I’m not going to waste my time on some of the crap bits of 2017 – of which there were mercifully few. Instead, here’s the things that happened this year that made it an absolute belter.

I got engaged

After two years of shit jokes and nerd stuff, Sean decided that I was tolerable enough and marrying me wasn’t the worst idea in the world.

It wasn’t rose petals, candles and writing my name in the sand. He casually sidled up to me at work after failing to find one of those flexible rulers and said “what ring size are you? I’m just curious.” Being not stupid, I twigged on what he was up to, and he proposed in the middle of our living room with a picture of the ring on his iPhone, much to the delight of our family and friends. It’s a story I’ll likely never get tired of telling.

We’re getting married in the summer of 2019, which means that this year I should probably organise stuff. This’ll be a laugh.

bridge
At least we booked the venues. Behold!

So did my sister

Not one hour after my sister had accompanied me to a wedding fair and seen more dresses she’d like than I had, her boyfriend of six years proposed. I gather Andrew was more subtle than Sean was. Very excited to be involved in a wedding that is not my own. As well as my own, obviously.

We all went to Orlando

After multiple evenings spent weeping from envy and nostalgia in my parents’ living room, I finally got to step into Disneyworld after fifteen years. I can’t really say more about it than I did in this blog post, but I’ve managed to convince Sean that we should go back for our honeymoon.

florida
Sun, cloudless sky, and Disney. Words don’t do it justice.

Forth Magic was born

2016 saw the doors close for the last time on our regular Magic: the Gathering venue. Not to be deterred, some of my best friends and I managed to band together to secure a venue (the excellent Yellow Café in Rosyth), organise our own events, and keep the momentum even as an unsanctioned playgroup. We even ran our own PPTQ before we unfortunately lost our sanctioning.

The Scottish MtG is one of the best communities that I know and I’m very proud to be involved in contributing to that.

The best video on the internet arrived

Have you seen the video of the Fleming family attempting to remove a rogue bat from their kitchen in County Kerry? If not, please experience it right now.

There was a new addition to the McArmstrong family

In Octover, after months of wondering whether or not Stella was lonely and unstimulated while we were out at work all day, we decided to get another cat. Thus Brando came into our lives.

brando

I’m not sure Stella has forgiven us yet. She was a laid back, delicate, deliberate kitten. Brando is a feline wrecking ball, bereft of any sense of danger or decency, prone to jumping on her without notice and ignoring any hissing and smacks on the head she doles out. He’s a cuddler, a curtain climber, a bottomless pit, and we love him. Even Stella’s been caught licking him when she thinks nobody is looking.

I wish he’d grow out of licking my ears when he wants fed, though.

I started this blog

My greatest achievement of this year has been this blog. I’ve started blogs before, but writer’s block and self-consciousness saw them fall into the pile of stuff I’ve started and ploughed into before my motivation dribbled away and died. I’ve made my mother cry, my friends routinely tell me how much they enjoy reading it (even if it is for the tone and sarcasm and not the content, right Dan?) and I’ve amassed 40 blog followers and over 100 Facebook followers since I started. I’m hardly a big fish, but I’m pretty pleased with myself.

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2017 was a good year. I’m currently in the holiday mood where everything is winding down and brand new at the same time, so expect a post about 2018 and where I hope it takes me very soon…

Why I (Won’t) Suck At Blogging, vol. 1

Surprise! I bet you all thought I’d given up already. Well, you were NEARLY correct. I wrote that first blog post nearly two months ago and it’s with a great deal of disgust that I slink back in now with the second one, pissed off with myself and feeling like a bit of (read: a lot of) a failure.

At first, I simply thought I’d run out of subject matter. Happens all it at the time, I’m quite boring. I thought I’d made an enormous mistake investing time in a blog when I had nothing to write about. Except I started several posts. I even managed to nearly finish one. I’ve been to several places that I could have written about, and had a couple of really crap weeks that I probably SHOULD have written about.

As easy as it would have been use that as an excuse, it wasn’t hugely plausible.

Exhibit two was the problem I have that usually prohibits me from finishing anything: the moment I get slightly stuck I give it up for lost and throw it into some folder where it can’t prod at my conscience. Six months, a year, two years down the line I rediscover it and go “ha, that was actually quite good”, start again, hit the wall…the cycle continues.

But that doesn’t really work either, cause for a change I started…not caring. Putting a million “saids” into dialogue just to get it down on paper, describing what I want to happen rather than writing it if a wall gets thrown up. Don’t edit mid-paragraph, persevere through the grim times. Everyone’s first draft is awful. But the more I wrote, the more disheartened I was, because it was straight up garbage. And I knew it.

But I didn’t stop to think about WHY it was garbage.

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I don’t have a particularly good voice, whether I’m speaking or writing. I’m aggressively sarcastic more often than not, I stutter garbled nonsense when I’m put on the spot, and unless you’re one of the few people I’m happy to be my usual dickhead self around I’m probably going to struggle. There’s a reason I loathe phonecalls, with silences I feel compelled to break with some idiot sentence before I chew off my own fingers. I’d much rather send an email or a Facebook message, where I can sit and think about what I’m going to say before I say it.

But a blog is different. Knowing that what I was writing was going out into the public internet, where literally anybody could stumble across it, was drastically altering the way I was writing it. It wasn’t me anymore, it was my words in someone else’s voice and I hated it.

I was stuck in a painful limbo for a while, running up the trade-off between writing something crap and impersonal and comfortable that made me grind my teeth, and writing something authentic, something with a bit of heart and feeling desperately sweaty about it.

So I took the gamble. I stopped writing inoffensive generic nonsense, or trying too hard to be amusing. Was it uncomfortable? Deeply. Did I manage to get it done without having to squeeze each individual word out? Eventually. But, all things considered, I think I’d rather make myself uncomfortable every now and again rather than trying to be funny or clever (and I’m pretty sure my friends will quite happily tell you that I’m frequently neither) if it means that I’ll actually be able to get things done, because I know – from years of experience – that doing nothing is worse.

It’s a start, right? Maybe in future I’ll be able to write quality blog posts with cool photos between the paragraphs, but aside from the expression I get when my brain is about to dribble out of my ears I’m not sure how I’d illustrate the predicament I’ve had for the past two months…

Good day friends!

I had a blog once, back in the day, but it kind of fell apart due to a) my crippling anxiety with regards to writing things and then showing them to other people (fun fact: I’ve suffered from a generalised anxiety disorder for as long as I can remember) and b) feeling like my life was shockingly boring and I had nothing to write about. I plan on fixing the latter by roping my friends in to give me random prompts every once in a while (fun fact: I nearly called the page “Smells Like Team Spirit”). The former I’ll attempt to get over by ripping the plaster off, firing nonsense into the internet and trying to resist the urge to set myself on fire afterwards.

Since I’ve already dropped a couple of facts in, here’s ten of the most interesting facts about me. Some of these will probably come up in the future. Some, like my awful jokes, will probably not.

1.       Most of my friends call me Sticky. I made a throwaway comment once about how nicknames never stuck. Unfortunately, this one has.

2.       I’ve got a big floppy cat called Stella. She hardly ever moves, chews my hair when she’s hungry and fall over when you pay attention to her. I love her.

3.       I have mild megalophobia. Nobody’s ever heard of it but it turns me into a jumpy bag of nerves any time I’m near an airport.

4.       I run (with my friends) our local Magic: the Gathering community. It’s simultaneously the most stressful and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

5.       I got engaged two weeks ago. I accidentally found out my fiancé had bought a ring so he got on one knee with a photo of it on his phone in its absence.

6.       R.E.M. have been my favourite band since I was nine. I never saw them live before they called it a day and it haunts me.

7.       My parents found out I could read when my dad had the newspaper sports pages open and I asked him who Colin Montgomery was.

8.       My jokes are so bad that I’ve been removed from buildings for punning.

9.       I’ve seen far too many episodes of Air Crash Investigation for someone who was already a nervous flier.

10.   I learned “London” by William Blake for my Higher English exam and I could still recite it and then sit down and write a pretty hot critical analysis of it nearly a decade later.

Thanks for reading!