2017: Careful what you wish for

I have asked myself why I bother writing these every year.  I am not so narcissistic to think that anyone actually reads them.  Perhaps it is cathartic.  Perhaps it is just something to write.  I have always liked to look back at my life and try to assess myself.  Whatever reason, I have not found a good reason to stop.  I think I primarily use it to get my mind centered on my year to come by benchmarking my progress in the year before.  It’s all a process in my life to deal with my shortcomings, and improving myself however I can.  A means to remain self-aware, in some ways.

While 2016 was a year of disappointments, 2017’s theme was “careful what you wish for.”   While 2016 was a struggle while my wife substituted and we struggled through paying bills, 2017 changed all that in some ways but added more bills at the same time.  We haven’t had much time to take a breather and enjoy the new money when a new unplanned expense popped up. But such is life and we have to deal with it one way or another.  I am lucky I have such a great teammate in my wife.

2017 started with a new car.  My wife’s car died one too many times and thus we decided it was time.  I ended up getting a cheap little car to drive me to work and she got the bigger car for all her motherly duties.  We had to really look deep into our budget to be able to afford this, but we figured out a way to work it.  At that time, there was no telling whether my wife was going to get a permanent job or not, so we cancelled our plans for the Club MACE cruise, first thing.  I was a good decision financially but we still do need a vacation badly.

In 2016, football was a pretty big part of my year review.  At the start of the year, the NFL season ended with a thud for me, with the Falcons making history with the most resounding defeat at the hands of Brady.  Two teams I dislike with a passion but the game turned out to be pretty good.  Auburn and the Niners both ended on sour notes but hope for the future was there.  After such a disappointing year in 2015-2016, I tried not to invest so much into football in 2017.  The Super Bowl loss in 2016 was emotionally draining.  Watching the Patriots become the Alabama of the NFL in 2017 was mind-numbing.

As of the end of 2016, I promised to spend more time on things that make me happy and motivated and less on things that drag me down. I wanted to focus on family, fun and frugalness. Let’s make Ron McClung great again! I am not entirely sure I accomplished all this but I think I did try some.  My two youngest got an opportunity to model some shoes for Rack Room.  I got involved heavily with my won’s sports, assistant coached with Flag Football and got him into tackle football.  It was also my parents 50th anniversary year and my wife and I were involved in the planning of that.  All of these help me center my soul a little closer to family and further away from things that are less fulfilling.

For those things that tend to drain me, I did not invest as much into them (emotionally, mentally) and I feel it paid off.  While I love doing conventions (for the most part), in the past the payoff was not always rewarding and instead was draining.  I still was involved with 5 events this year but peeled back my involvement with one. I want through some drama in the latter situation, but I am finding out that there is always drama with these things.

mini-mace and MACE West went reasonably well.  No complaints.  Fo MACE West, we had to wrestle with various kids events – Cheerleading, Pinewood derby, etc – but we got through them, thanks primarily because my wife is such a trooper.  Next year, however, it will be harder for us to attend MACE West together.  I will probably be alone all weekend for 2018.  2017 Q1 was soured however by a loss of box of minis.  Somehow in between MACE West and ConCarolinas, I lost a box of minis.  Someone else probably picked them up.  Hope they enjoy them.

ConGregate is officially off my responsibility list.  Gaming there was just going nowhere and allocating my energies elsewhere was a better decision.  This was one of the things that was draining me.  Timing and community both effect that convention.  It just does not appeal to the gamers in that area.  Gamers have changed enough now that sci-fi cons are just not doing it for them anymore.

ConCarolinas was going to be different this year because it finally returned to its “home” hotel at the Hilton.  This a was apparently not seen as a smart move by many (as I predicted, indirectly).  I wrote about my ConCarolinas experience in a couple of posts: The sweet satisfaction and Post ThatCon Feedback. I have tried to apply my lessons from ConCarolinas this year to MACE, and I think I successfully did it to some degree.  But the damage done at CC may not be recoverable, on many levels.

MACE 2017 was a reasonable success but we were down that year.  We had to deal with another football team which made things difficult from a space perspective.  Because of these space issues, we turned off a certain contingent of our attendees and thus we were down a small percentage.  The board gamers that prefer open tables for open games did not have enough space.  Well, unfortunately, with all the space we had, the first to go is that open gaming space.  My MACE 2017 report can be found here – MACE 2017 Gaming Coordinator Report.

There were two big things to happen to us this year, however, that pretty much set the tone for 2017.  The first one started out as a simple problem but grew into more.  A squirrel in my attic lead to wasting $300 and a hole in my living room ceiling.  This exploded into a realization that I need new siding and gutter guards.  Between the squirrels getting in, the dry rot everywhere, and the siding that needs to be replaced, it was time.  Added to this was my plans on selling.  This being the most expensive renovation we were going to do, we went ahead and got a estimate from Affordable Siding & Windows (who I do recommend).

This all hinged on one thing, however.  And that was the next big thing to happen.  The only reason we called for an estimate was because my wife got a job.  But not just a job – the job she wanted the most, in the school our youngest two go to, teach the grade she wanted.  You can’t ask for anything better.  All these years I was wondering if I was doing the right thing, letting our debt get so high while my wife stayed home with the kids.  With this answered prayer, it tells me that we did the right thing.

However, this was also a double-edged sword and really set the theme for the rest of the year.  Although my wife worked some in 2016, it did not prepare us for the level of stress we are facing on a regular basis (primarily Steph).  This is where “careful what you wish for” really hit home.  Between all the things the kids do, the meeting she has, and other commitments, we are always running around.  Nothing new in the life of parents of three but it doesn’t make it any easier.

The siding ended up being another “careful what you wish for” because of the cost.  It’s basically another car payment but it had to be done.  Thanks to my wife, we can afford it.

The year was not without its medical scares either.  My dad ended up in the hospital for the first time in a while, and it was a scary for a little while.  Turns out, he had cellulitis and it took a little while to get it under control.  He needs to be more careful about the work around the lake dock.  Additionally, in the obituary section of my review, a coworker (technically one of my employees) passed – Jim St. John.  A good man and Christian, I know he’s in a good place.

In the end, I am not entirely sure I made myself better.  But I had a better year overall than expected.  It was challenging and had its up and downs, but we got through it.   2018 is looking up.  I definitely gotta lose the weight this year.  And I need to improve my attitude overall.  Eventually, I am going to start dragging other people down with me.

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