One of my most vivid and humbling memories of 2011 is walking around Arlington National Cemetery.
As I write this, I’m still in 2011. When it publishes, it will be 2012.
I’m ready for the change.
To say that 2011 has been one of the most frustrating and stressful years for me since I’ve been on this planet would be an understatement.
I’m in the midst of one of the biggest battles of my life — unemployment. I’ve had interviews. I’ve had callbacks. But I haven’t gotten that job offer — yet. I know one will come, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that I’ve dealt with this for an entire year — and still feel that losing my job was unjust. I realize cuts have to be made, but I still can’t and probably never will why mine was cut.
That’s neither here nor there and it’s in the past. I keep pushing forward.
When I look back many years from now and think of years during my life, this one will stand out. Why? Because of everything I’ve had to go through. And I’m not the only one. There are so many talented people throughout the country dealing with the same thing. With unemployment as it is, the market is tougher. I’ve even cashed in many favors to get noticed, to no avail.
Something will happen. And this year will have made me stronger. That’s something that I will take away from all this frustration.
That doesn’t take the distaste away from my mouth. I haven’t been to the doctor in nearly a year (who can afford it when no insurance?), I haven’t seen a dentist (oh how I miss the teeth cleaning) in 9 or 10 months, and I’ve battled the up and down feelings at different times. I’ve learned everything I need to know and then some about unemployment insurance. And the job market. And resumes. And cover letters.
And the list goes on and on.
I’ve learned how to battle some of these items and push forward. I’ve let some of those feelings win at times, however, and that doesn’t feel good.
It took me many months to come to grips with what happened. I finally, in October or November, finally let it go. I’m at peace with it now. I am shocked it took me that long, but it did. I will say that there are certain people of whom I used to have amazing respect and admiration for. That’s gone. There were people I considered friends. That’s gone. The reality is I only keep in touch with a few people from my former place of employment. Once employed again, there might be a couple of others I touch base with.
There are a few, however, whom I will never — ever — have contact with again. There is a strong feeling of dislike, or worse. And I’m OK with that. I’ve learned to keep it under control. I know one day, I’ll rise above all of that and be able to laugh.
Still, with all that negativity, this year hasn’t been all bad.
I’m going to take a personal look back at 2011 and hopefully not bore you in the process!
The year started off OK, but then, for the first time in my professional career, I found myself on the short end of a layoff. It wasn’t performance based, but there were several cuts in our newsroom.
Anytime I get worked up about things that happened to me in 2011, I try and look at images like this to realize life isn't bad.
Somehow, despite winning or being part of six awards and being extremely loyal, I was one of the short straws. It still boggles my mind.
That put me in a different mode.
I had to re-write my resume, secure references and work on cover letters. I had to basically be a full-time job seeker. That still hasn’t paid off, but I’m pushing ahead.
I battled this early. It was tough, as it still is. But I was pretty in the dumps.
I battled out and went in here and there. But I kept fighting. Still, I made the best of this 2011.
A friend of mine, Brendan, who has always been more like a little brother, graduated from the Navy’s basic training. I had the opportunity to go out there and see it.
Brendan after graduation.
The experience was excellent. The ceremony was very cool and it was good to see him happy and excited for the next steps in his life. Since then, he’s continued his schooling and is doing well. I hope one day he really gets to make an impact. It’s good to see his life on track better than before.
The military isn’t for everyone. Though I am loyal and always considered myself hard working, I like knowing that if something is really bad, I can look for a new job and move on. It’s not that way in the military, so I don’t think I would have done well with it. But Brendan has done well and I hope his success continues and this becomes something he can continue to embrace and utilize to make his life better.
The trip to Chicago also served as a chance to meet up with an old friend, Scott. The two of us grew up three houses from one another. I’ve kept in somewhat contact with him over the years, but I hadn’t actually seen him in several years. He’s in the Chicago area, so I got to meet up with him one night, have a few drinks, dinner and catch up. I’ve long since realized that making contact with old friends and family is a big part of this life and a way to find some happiness. More on that, as well, late in the post.
Not long after that, I then had the chance to take a few days and go to the biggest geocaching event in the world.
The Ferreteers at GeoWoodstock!
It was in Pennsylvania, so not a bad drive. There were more than 5,000 people at this event. And what an experience.
Over the course of three days, we hit up eight events (including the big one), met many new people, saw a lot of familiar faces and had a great time. Of course there were many caches to be found as well!
The experience itself was quite amazing. This was probably the best geocaching experience I’ve had yet. I can’t even put it into words, for the most part. Vendors, people, food, fun. It was excellent.
Hopefully, if all goes well, I’ll be able to travel to Indiana for this year’s edition of GeoWoodstock. We’ll see how the job hunt goes.
As for geocaching, it hasn’t been an awful year. My numbers have gone down, as they have the past year or two. But I still enjoy it a lot. I just don’t go flying our for first to finds in the middle of the night or look for 40-plus find days anymore. A cache here and there makes me happy, especially if it’s a good one. Events are still the most enjoyable part of the game to me and I look forward to continuing this fun in 2012.
I had the chance to have a lot of great finds this year (and many crappy ones, too), but the game maintained its fun factor. That’s the key to me. I always wondered if geocaching would keep that fun and it has. I think that I’ve slowed down and spread it out more has prolonged the fun for me. I know many people out there have so many more finds, plan vacations for geocaching, and live and breathe the game. But if I had done that, I would have lost the interest a long time ago. I’ve kept it and I look for that to continue in 2012.
And though I’ve had to do it on the cheap (which isn’t bad), I’ve had the chance to do some small trips this year, specifically to Washington D.C. and South New Jersey.
I stared out at this for many hours when in South Jersey.
I crashed at a friend’s house in the D.C. area and had an excellent time. I caught up with him and another friend, saw some great things and had some good food. I hadn’t been to D.C. since I was 5 or 6 years old and don’t really remember it.
I had the chance to do some photography, find a few caches and just relax. It was nice to get away. And, I was even treated to a NHL playoff game, which was wild to watch, especially with the Capitals winning. Good times.
One of the parts of the trip I will remember are the two times I went to Arlington National Cemetery by myself. I just walked around. Took some photos and really took in the scene. It was amazing. And very powerful and humbling.
In October, I had the chance to hit up the Jersey shore. My aunt and uncle own a place in Avalon and offered me the chance to stay there. Despite having a hard time getting in when I first got there, I had three or so days of enjoyment down there. There was hardly anyone there. I walked the beach, took photos, went geocaching and relaxed. I also had the chance to meet up with a cousin I hadn’t seen in many years and we went out for a night of photography, which was a blast.
One of the cool things during a trip to NYC was going to 5 Pointz in Queens.
I also got to take two day trips down to New York City to visit with friends, which is always excellent. I went in the spring and then about a week ago. The city is a great place for photos, food and fun. I don’t think I’d ever want to live there, but visiting isn’t a bad thing. I got some great photo opportunities and it’s a great getaway that doesn’t cost too much for one day.
On the spring trip, I even finally got the chance to go to the top of the Empire State Building, which was really cool.
The best was keeping these trips on the cheap end. All of them of them helped clear my mind some, which was excellent.
A game that I’ve embraced more in 2011 is disc golf. This game has been a fantastic addition to my life. For one, it gets you out walking/hiking to play. It taxes you physically and mentally and it’s an interesting culture.
The Ace Race was a fun and relaxed tournament.
Personally, my game has improved some. Not as much as I’d have liked it to, but that’s part of the problem when the closest good course to you is 1:20 away. There has been a push for a course in our area (there had been hopes of having it in the ground this past June or so), but political red tape has stonewalled it. There’s still hope and maybe by this spring we’ll have the dream of this course realized. If that happens, I look forward to my game taking off a bit better.
Still, I had the chance to play many rounds. I also played in seven tournaments (five of which were PDGA sanctioned). I had plans to play in a few more, but I got a little burnt with the game earlier in the year.
I found that playing too many tournaments and not enough casual rounds could really do you in. Why? Because the game becomes too competitive. As much as I like to compete, I also don’t like to get smoked by everyone. Finishing last is one thing, but finishing last by many strokes is another.
So I stepped away from tournaments, except a few. I played more casual rounds. I found the fun again. I even had my best round ever, shooting a 64 at Central Park in Schenectady. That was an awesome feeling. I’ve since had several rounds in the 60s and feel I’m improving a lot, but I need to practice more. Go throw. Putt. Work on things.
The best for a tournament though? The ElectrCity Classic. My opening round was awful. One of the worst rounds I had ever shot at the course (again, Central Park) when I finished with an awful 83. I had been paired up with three players in a much better category than I. They were shooting from the blue tees and me from the white. It was very tough to do this and I still wonder why I wasn’t paired with at least one other in my division. But, that’s neither here nor there. The round dragged on. We got smoked with a nasty thunderstorm. And then finally finished.
With nothing to lose in round two, I relaxed. I was also in a fivesome — all of which were in the same level, for the most part. And I improved. I shot a 72 (and could have been better, sans a couple of idiotic putts), got the most improved round (a $25 gift card to a local sports store) and didn’t finish last in a legit tournament.
I volunteered at the Vibram Open this year. It's impressive watching players, such as Avery Jenkins, throw that plastic as far as they do.
So not bad.
I’m hoping 2012 will continue to see my game improve. I’ve made some great contacts in the industry and a few of us are working on a really fun project. I’ve met and chatted with some of the finest pros in the world, had the chance to volunteer at one of the most prestigious tournaments on the national tour (the Vibram Open) and really got to see a lot of new things in regard to the game this year. I see no reason that won’t change!
Here’s hoping that my game can continue to improve and that I can keep having fun playing!
As many people who know me know, most of my online monikers have the word “softball” in them. That’s done on purpose as I’m a softball junkie.
The one good thing about being unemployed during the summer is that I can do all my job seeking during the day and have the nights free to play softball. I’ve played softball since I was in high school and I love the game.
This year was a new experience for our team in our current league. We came in as defending champions.
And we left as back-to-back champions.
It was a great season. We lost twice, both coming to the same team. One of those losses came in the best-of-three final. It didn’t look good for us in the third game, either. But we rallied in the bottom of the seventh to win on a walk-off single.
It was a tremendous scene, too, as our bench emptied to celebrate the win. I realize it’s adult recreation softball, but the reality is we are not going to be playing pro ball. So this is the competition we have. This is our big time. And to win a game in that fashion after such an awesome series, it was an incredible feeling.
Winning doesn’t suck.
Only time will tell if we can make it three straight this upcoming summer. But I know we’ll give it a run and have fun in the process.
Probably the best thing this year though?
Our family reunion.
It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and after some hard work with several people in the family (especially my mother), we pulled it off. Family from my mother’s and father’s sides came to this area for a fantastic day in August.
I met family I had never met before.
Our family reunion was, happily, a big draw.
And saw members of the family who I had only really seen at weddings and funerals. So what a difference.
We had good food, drink, games and fun.
In the end, there were more than 50 members of the family present. There were several generations, too, which made it even cooler.
There were a couple of times where I just stood back and looked around at all the smiles and such. I know for many years, I wasn’t the most family oriented person. I missed some smaller reunions, weddings etc. I regret that now.
But, as I’ve grown older, I realize how great these reunions can be.
I don’t know if I’ll try and do one again this year, but I know I want to do one again, soon. It’s a tough time for many people in this economy, so getting up here every year might be tough.
I did learn a lot from this reunion, however. And I think the next one will be better from those lessons.
But in the end, no matter how much we may have over planned (too much food!), this was a tremendous experience and great time. I look forward to doing it again!
With having more time on my hands, I had the chance to work on my blog more often. I think that has been successful.
For the year, my statistics were solid. I only started keeping stats at the very end of February, but according to those attached to my blog, I’ve had nearly 21,000 hits. That’s quite solid for a personal blog, I think.
And, since August, I’ve averaged almost 3,000 hits per month.
I’ve also had a chance to really dive back into photography and work on some personal projects. And seeing as my love of photography has come back, I’m going to once again attempt to do a 365 project. The reason I am doing it, however, is because 2012 is a leap year and it will actually be a 366 project.
I finished this project in 2010. So hopefully I can do it again this year. I always said I wouldn’t do it again, but heck… let’s see what I can get done this year!
In the end, 2011 was a tough year. Unemployment has given me a different outlook on this world, people and other things. I’m not political, but it’s my hope that the government will eventually find a way to help people instead of always fighting with other countries. That’s all I have to say about political stuff.
But I’ve met some really good new friends. I’ve had some successes and I look for better things in 2012. I do feel blessed, to a point, for having what I have and knowing life could be worse.
My outlook is good. I am positive. I have a roof over my head. I can pay my bills (for the most part) and I am breathing. I have it far better than many. But that doesn’t take away from the thoughts of personal failure and wonderment on what lies ahead. I’ll overcome, I hope, in 2012.
I am not much for “New Year’s resolutions,” but I do like to set some goals. My goals, in no specific order (outside of the first one) for 2012 are:
- New job
- Reach 3,000 finds in geocaching
- Become a 750 rated disc golfer (I’m at 672)
- Improve my health (get to seeing a doctor regularly again, lose weight, etc.)
- Find personal happiness
- Continue for my blog to grow
- Complete the 366 project
Finally, I want to end this post with some more photography. I’ve decided I wanted to pick out my 15 favorite photos that I took this year. I will put them in no particular order and, I can assure you, this was a very rough decision to make to pick just 15 (I could have easily gone top 25!) (Note: The ones already used in this post are among some of my favorites, but I won’t use them for a second time in this part).
Disc golf basket during sunset. April.
Snowshoeing during an LL Bean course in Albany. January.
Speeding bullet. April.
Changing of the Guard, Arlington National Cemetery. April.
On-site fundraiser at Relay For Life. April.
Kite flying in South New Jersey. October.
Mother's Day golf outing. May.
Delaware County Fair. August.
Eddie Edwards vs. Jay Freddie, 2CW. August.
Vibram Open winner Nate Doss has his photo taken by top women's pro and girlfriend Val Jenkins after taking the ceremonial pond plunge. September.
Oneonta Ultimate Idol winner, Liz Walker. August.
Sarah making the final out during a tournament game. September.
Washington D.C. (From Arlington). April.
To everyone, I hope you have a great and wonderful 2012. May it be full of dreams, good reality, good pizza, an awesome hot dog or three and perfectly poured pints of Guinness. May you smile often and find success in whatever you do.
Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook by clicking the button on the right side of the page!