My 30th year was one of drastic ups and downs. Even writing this now, three weeks removed from the new year, I’m finding it difficult to focus on the good of it. Nevertheless, I’m committed to the bit. So here’s 2023.
Truth be told, I don’t typically think about my age. In fact, I generally have a difficult time remembering how old I am at any given time without some quick mental math. But hey, three decades into this so called life isn’t bad. Milestone acknowledged. We visited the Rock Hall to celebrate.
Ditch The Junker
For around 5 years, my 2004 Saturn Vue sat, rotting, in the parking area behind our apartment. I loved the car, but didn’t feel safe driving it anymore. I dragged my feet in finding a buyer while it was still running, so there it sat. Finally, despite some confusion with the charity I was donating the junk value to, a somewhat sketchy truck came and hauled it away. Just in time too…
Buy a House
Leaving the old apartment was hard. We lived there very happily for 7.5 years. But the house we bought is just a few streets away and we’re very happy living here too.
We went and looked at the place for the first time on January 24th and knew almost straight away it was what we were looking for. We got lucky, having learned about it before it hit the market. We closed on March 13th. It’s more than 100 years old.
There’s a nice backyard for Jazz, enough rooms for offices and a spare bedroom, and a finished attic area that we still haven’t figured out what to do with. The basement isn’t finished, but it’s dry and has a workbench. In many ways it reminds me of my parent’s first home and that feels right. We have a lot of plans to make it our own.
Pay Off That Loan
Technically, the final payment didn’t post until the new year, but I paid off the remainder of my school loans. It’s my second time doing that and definitely my last.
See a Doctor
After experiencing the worst bout of allergy-related illness I’ve had,  I went to an allergist and confirmed that every allergy I thought I had, I had. Cats, hay, pollen… I was prescribed an inhaler and some allergy pills that have helped my breathing massively. I also cut out milk in favor of a lactose-free variety. For the most part, my gastrointestinal health is in much better shape than it was a year ago.
Form New Habits
Last year, I left Twitter and I’ve since stuck to it. In fact, I’ve scaled back the bulk of my social media. I’m not perfect. I still get caught in the vortex of IG Reels like the rest of you heathens. But I’ve found it worthwhile to stay cognizant of these bad habits and ditch them as I can.
This year I’ve been trying to build new ones. There’s work to do here as well, but I’m rolling these into 2024:
I read one book this year. It was a local writer’s debut fantasy novel: Vulcan’s Blade. I read it over vacation and, after allowing myself to get into the book, really enjoyed the experience. I was an avid reader growing up and lost the practice in high school. Getting that back is important to me, but has proved difficult. I resolved to finish three by year’s end, but life had other plans. I’m going to re-up that goal for 2024.
If you’re reading this, perhaps you’ve already noticed that this blog has seen more activity this year. I posted 17 blogs, covering a range of topics. Some were personal. Others covered technology or workflow-like things. I wrote about Letterboxd a lot. I wrote deep dives on the history of Star Wars film posters and a fan restoration project fans of Superman will find enlightening.
Sinus infection, three days laid up in bed, the works. Felt nearly as bad as COVID. ↩︎
In April, I started shopping for a Fujifilm X100V. I’d seen a lot of shots out of that camera that I just loved and figured it could be cool to own a dedicated camera again. By the time my camera had arrived, I’d upgraded my choice to an X-T5. Why? The X100V is out of stock and in massively high demand.
Despite being a tad bigger, X-T5 is an excellent camera and I had a lot of fun with it last year. My editing workflow isn’t perfect yet and I have loads that have sat untouched. Nevertheless, I started sharing some of my favorite shots on new (public) Instagram and Pixelfed accounts. This post features some of my favorites.
If Fuji releases a successor to that (or preferably the E4), I may get one as the “pocketable” camera idea is still very appealing. ↩︎
Okay. This isn’t exactly a new habit, but I have changed my approach to watching movies a bit in the last year or so. Starting with my yearly Halloween marathon, I started prioritizing “good” movies. That sounds dumb, but I find that I get a lot more out of film when there’s some substance. Don’t get me wrong, I watch a lot of stupid popcorn flicks, but I like thinking about movies and the movies that I tend to think about for hours or days after seeing them tend to fall in different categories.
This proved out through my group chat film draft, which finished its second year successfully with older and more critically acclaimed films and, subsequently, higher ratings. We’ve already drafted for 2024 and the schedule is stacked with classics we’d all been missing from our film vocabularies. I’ll also be taking on the Criterion Challenge and another (smaller) 31 Days of Halloween in 2024.
Perhaps my biggest contribution to the world this year—at least for those that have already found it—is a script-generated list called Closing The Loops. After taking a shot at the idea by hand, I wrote a Python script that compiles all 16 of the lists that Letterboxd features on their stat pages, filters down to a subset of unique films, and then sorts them by their appearances on these lists. I also generate a companion to this list that is limited to only the films that appear in the Criterion Collection.
Despite buying an extra week of time off, Mae and I didn’t do nearly as much traveling this year. I suppose buying a house ate through enough of our time and funds that l keeping it fairly local seemed like a good idea.
Mae and I would both like to increase this figure. ↩︎
I drove to Statesville, NC for my cousin Dominic’s high school and college graduation. I wasn’t a fan of the traffic down there, but it was nice to see some Floridian members of the family I don’t get to visit with too often these days.
He’s a smart cookie who is now studying Meteorology at Penn State. I’m very proud of him. ↩︎
In July, a cousin on the other side of the family got married in Forrest, OH. Will (from Spokane) married Loxi (from Napoleon, like Mae) and the ceremony was wonderful. I’m very glad the entire family was able to be there for the occasion.
In August, we took our annual trip to Michigan, this time staying near the Sleeping Bear Dunes. We got plenty of beach time in as well as some quality lake-side grub.
Mansfield, OH isn’t too far away, but I hadn’t been through in a while. To my surprise and delight, my old Breaker boss Erik found his way out there for a quick visit over drinks at the Phoenix Brewing Company. I greatly enjoyed the company and the drinks.
See a Show
I saw seven shows this year, all in Ohio. Nick Shoulders had to cancel a gig, which brings me to one less gig than last year. Throughout the year, I saw The Mountain Goats and Steve-O in Akron. Coheed and Cambria and Deafheaven, The Beths and Disq, Milk Carton Kids and Charlie Hickey, and a Foxing / Hotelier headliner all in different venues throughout Cleveland. Del Amitri, Five for Fighting, and Barenaked Ladies put on a wonderfully nostalgic show at Blossom.
Different gigs. Could you imagine? ↩︎
Looking back on the year now feels like a countdown to one of the saddest periods of my life—one that I’m not yet out of. My grandmother Ruth Tender passed away on December 27th and I’m having a really hard time with it, if I’m honest. We were close.
I’m still working through this loss in very large, unexpected, and painful waves every few days. It’s killed the productivity and creative vigor I typically experience in the new year. That’s why this year in review is late. I get dashes of energy, but it’s rarely enough to act on. My performance at work has been affected and that adds a layer of guilt on top of the grief.
It’s been difficult to anticipate when these feelings of intense sadness are going to hit me. It’s usually in quiet moments, almost always while I’m in the middle of something else. Twice this week I’ve lost it to the sight of a comment she left behind on someone’s instagram post or a message she sent to me on Facebook, despite not being active there since 2018. Seeing these minor signposts of life are incredibly disorienting. It’s hard to hold in my head that she’s gone. So when I come upon something new from her in this way, my brain and my gut clash somewhere around my throat.
I’m as depressed as I’ve been in years and trying my best to climb out of it. I know she lived a full and happy life. I really just miss her a lot.
There you have it, the ups and downs. It’s possible that this post will continue to see updates as my state of mind improves. I know this was an important year in a lot of ways—certainly memorable.
Read More: My Favorite Things 2023